CBS 4Q16 Earnings Call Notes

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Leslie Moonves

NFL improved after the election

“Look, obviously, there’s been a lot of conversations about the NFL and the ratings, and clearly there was improvement after the election was over. That was one of the factors. The good news is the playoffs did extremely well for us, so we made up for that. And as we said, we had fewer games. So going into next year, we plan it – as I said before, it’s still the best content on television. I’m still happy we have our Sunday football and our Thursday night packages, and Jo Ann and her team are planning on selling it aggressively as we always do. The fact that it was down this year is not really going to affect that.”

Thanks for calling us attractive

“Look, we’ve always said we are self-contained and we are very strong and we like our position. Thank you for calling us very attractive. We feel that way too. Obviously, the wireless companies as well as the Silicon Valley companies are all looking at the content companies as being very valuable. They’re all trying to get into the content business. But we feel very secure in who we are and we’re going to continue to play the game that way.”

Scatter pricing is strong

“You know what? Our cancellations, I haven’t gotten the call from my salespeople, so this is the first I’m hearing that they’re slightly up. Maybe you’re talking to the wrong network. No. So anyway, yes, scatter is strong. Once again, it’s too early to predict pricing on the upfront, but we are anticipating another strong upfront. It’s still the best game in town and we’re – I’m optimistic.”

Cable operators are realizing they can’t do their own all original content

“It’s very interesting. You point out something very interesting in that our off-network product initially went to cable, then it went to the SVOD players, then it went to both. And I think on each show that we do, we sort of do a different analysis. And there are more players in the marketplace that are now looking for content, which is great, on the streaming services as well. So it’s really a mixed bag. I think some of the cable operators are coming back to buying off-network product. They realize they can’t do their own all-original content. So as long as we keep doing what we do, which is produce good original content that we own, we’re going to be – not only we’re not going to exploit the international marketplace, but domestically the numbers are – continue to get higher and higher every year.”

We are talking with the NFL to do things about speeding up games

“All right, Tim. I’ll answer the second question first. Obviously, we’ve met with Roger, and we’ve met with the NFL a number of times. We’re all looking at how the product can be more efficient, possibly speeding up the games, possibly things in terms of pods, possibly things in terms of the referees looking at the replays, how long that takes, et cetera. So we’re looking at some reformat ideas. Obviously, we’re not planning on cutting advertising. If there are ways of doing advertising in different ways that are equally beneficial, we’re looking at that, and we’re trying to make the game as good an experience as we could make it.”