CBS Corp. president and CEO Leslie Moonves said the network has big plans to grow its retransmission-consent revenue in the coming years, with the CBS affiliates kicking in a bigger chunk of revenue they've negotiated with pay-TV carriers.
Speaking before a room full of investors at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference in New York today, Moonves said it's not one size fits all when negotiating with the local broadcasters: "Not all station groups are created equal. Some are stronger than others."
While he said CBS had not yet negotiated deals on behalf of its affiliates, he said he expects partner stations to work out fair payment for their signal-and share the spoils. He believes CBS' thriving primetime, especially in the vital 10 p.m. hour that serves up viewers for local news, justifies the network's demands
Moonves was adamant that CBS' retrans revenue has vast growth potential. "Obviously it will be larger in 2011 than it is in 2010, and will continue to grow from there," said Moonves. "As retrans grows, so does reverse comp."
The CBS chief shed light on the landmark 10-year retrans pact with Comcast, which he described as both a partner and a major competitor if and when the NBC Universal merger closes. Many found both the length and the timing of the deal surprising, but Moonves said it was in the best interest of both media giants to iron out an agreement. "There are a lot of things in that contract that look toward the future," he said, mentioning VOD and TV authentication. "It gives us both a lot of flexibility...It was a great negotiation. It was a great deal for both sides."
While CBS has thus far kept its content, which Moonves referred to as "the family jewels," off the Hulu.com platform, the CBS chief suggested he was looking "very carefully" at the Hulu Plus subscription model, announced by Hulu CEO Jason Kilar in June.
"That's a much more interesting potential thing for us," he said. "That makes a lot more sense to us than Hulu does. I think it makes a lot more sense to a couple of partners in Hulu too."