CBS has new distribution deals that will enable it to reach audiences served by Verizon FiOS and Hulu’s upcoming live streaming service, CEO Les Moonves told analysts today as he kicked off his quarterly earnings call — still underway.
The Verizon deal covers CBS and CW stations, as well as Showtime and other cable networks, and was “on terms consistent with our long term target of achieving $2.5 billion of annual retrans and reverse comp revenue by 2020.”
The deal with Hulu’s upcoming live streaming service is “significant because it represents all of the skinny bundle entrants who are paying a premium to gain access to our content,” Moonves says.
CBS still is not in AT&T’s DirecTV Now. Moonves says he’s “still anticipating conversations” with the service.
The Hulu deal does not include stacking rights.
He also mentioned a recently announced affiliation renewal with Meredith Corp, “one of our largest affiliate groups.” The new deal includes rights for the affiliates to participate in revenues from CBS All Access as well as future agreements with digital distributors.
“These three deals give us increased flexibility,” he says.
He added that CBS All Access and Showtime’s online services are on pace for 4 million subs each — although the CEO says that “we’re not willing to give you a number today.”
Asked about the health of the advertising business, Moonves says that he’s “anticipating another strong upfront” market this Spring. “It’s still the best game in town. I’m optimistic.”
He expects to see more use of data from Nielsen and others counting people who watch shows on digital devices. “That means more viewers and more revenues for us.”
With his enthusiasm for TV, Moonves says he “would be interested” in buying additional stations if the FCC, under Trump-appointed Chairman Ajit Pai, raises the ownership cap.
“Would we go outside of the top 25 [markets]? Probably not,” he says — in part because the big markets tend to have NFL teams that attract lots of viewers. “We would be aggressive. But we’re not going to be stupid about it.”
As for the FCC’s auction of broadcast spectrum for wireless broadband, CFO Joseph Ianniello says CBS “did not sell any full power signals…That’s our bread and butter.”