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CBS to Cash In on Growing Number of Revenue Streams, Says Les Moonves


"We can get paid for a new program 12 different ways," says CBS CEO.

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL As the top broadcast network in the country, CBS Corp. (NYSE:CBS) is poised to cash in on its popular programming as more media platforms emerge, said CBS president Leslie Moonves.

Speaking at the UBS Global Media Conference in New York City, Moonves said that in an ever-evolving media landscape, content distributors such as Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), cable networks, and overseas distributors demand more hit series than ever to satiate user demand, and CBS, together with its sister network, Showtime, has plenty of those to offer.

"We're looking at a variety of ways to get paid from things that truly didn't exist [before]. The world has changed drastically the last few years. We can get paid for a new program 12 different ways. Five years ago, it was one or two," said Moonves on CBS's growing number of revenue streams for its top programs such as CSI, The Big Bang Theory, and Elementary.

Though many in the industry worry that new media platforms are hurting TV ratings and affecting advertising revenues, Moonves adopted a positive attitude toward the changing technology landscape.

"Technology is our friend," Moonves emphasized. "We welcome every form of technology - DVR, TiVo, iTunes, streaming. We're a content company. Our goal is to produce great content - and get paid for it."

When asked if the rising popularity of cable original programming such as AMC's (NASDAQ:AMCX) The Walking Dead and Showtime's Homeland meant that cable networks would require less of programming from broadcast networks like CBS to fill up airtime, Moonves said he disagreed, saying that The Big Band Theory, for example, is on TBS (NYSE:TWX) "25 times a day" and is the channel's top-rated program.

"On TBS, you can't turn on the channel without see a The Big Bang Theory rerun," quipped Moonves, who also added that CBS's NCIS franchise also attracted viewers to USA Network (NASDAQ:CMCSA). "They realize a hit on network is irreplaceable," he opined.

A day earlier, Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC) CEO Glenn Britt had said he would drop lower-rated channels that cost a lot. Referencing Britt's point, Moonves said "That means for the channels that are getting viewers, he's going to pay more."

"He should pay the most for the guy who's the No. 1 network," Moonves quipped, adding that pay TV operators overpay cable channels in subscription fees when compared to broadcast networks. He noted that if Time Warner Cable pays ESPN (NYSE:DIS) $5.25 per subscriber, then CBS deserves more. CBS would be "going in next year for $7" per month per subscriber, Moonves joked to much laughter.

CBS has been the leading broadcast network in the country for 10 years, with an average of 12 million viewers tuning in nightly. The network also owns roughly 75% of its content, meaning it is able to rake in strong revenue numbers by selling programming rights to media platforms worldwide. Moonves said that CBS's international revenue stands at $1.1 billion a year, and is fast growing.

Thanks to the continued popularity of CBS programs, shares of the company have surged some 31% for the year-to-date. In comparison, the benchmark Standard & Poor's 500 Index (INDEXSP:.INX) is up 12% for the same period.

(See also: Time Warner Cable CEO Warns: We'll Cut Expensive Channels With Low Ratings.)

Twitter: @sterlingwong
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