New York -- CBS Television CEO Leslie Moonves went out on a limb as the
Friday-morning keynoter at the Jupiter Media Forum here when he predicted, 'It
looks like both the Internet group and the ITV [interactive-TV] group will be
profitable this year.'
CBS' Internet strategy, Moonves explained, has called for building
destinations that drive traffic and trading advertising and promotion for equity
positions in such Web entities as CBS
SportsLine and CBS
Moonves said CBS, a traditional media company, is finally 'getting its arms
around [the Internet]' by developing content that works well on both TV and the
Web. He cited Survivor and its current Outback-based sequel, as well as
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, as examples. Survivor II alone is
averaging 60 million page views on the Web, he noted, with time spent at 30
minutes per user.
Sites for still other series are now in development, from JAG to
Everybody Loves Raymond, he said.
Moonves recalled that CBS took heavy criticism for not going the portal
route, but he said with some satisfaction that his company's strategy proved
correct. Noting that The Walt Disney Co.'s failure with GO.com -- or that Disney recently 'declared that
GO was gone,' as he put it -- he said, 'We're beginning to feel like we're ahead
of, not behind, the curve.'
CBS is now beefing up its Internet ad-sales force and putting it under its
network-TV-sales chief's supervision, while also putting CBS.com and CBSNews.com under the network's news and
entertainment heads, he added.
Turning to interactive TV, Moonves said CBS has developed such content with
Microsoft Corp.'s Microsoft WebTV Networks Inc. for CSI and the Grammy
Awards, with the NCAA's 'March Madness' college basketball up next.
Moonves hinted that Big Brother -- a lackluster ratings generator that
also had a Web component in its first season -- has a 'pretty good chance' to
return this summer (perhaps due to the writers' and actors' strikes threatened
for June). He did not stick around for a question-and-answer