Communacopia: CBS' Moonves: Why Watch Live Sports Online When You Can Watch Your HDTV?

This story was written by David Kaplan.
After going over the new fall shows, Les Moonves, CBS Corp.'s (NYSE: CBS) president and CEO, offered words of praise for DVRs and TiVo (NSDQ: TIVO), claiming that the video-on-demand hasn't hurt ad dollars. Speaking at Goldman Sachs' Communicopia conference, Moonves said he was also surprised by how the demand for HD has taken off. "We used to say that people aren't going to watch because the picture's better. That's not true anymore. If you're not HD, you will suffer. As for TiVo, it has helped. Penetration is up north of 30 percent, higher than DVRs, and the network shows are still important, the ratings are there." Still, he remains doubtful about live sports and the desire to watch streaming video: "On a Saturday afternoon, I think people would rather watch their HD screen live than stream it on their computer, unless they're in an airport, perhaps."

-- On CNET: The marriage is only 45 days old, but the various categories have fit into each other nicely, Moonves insists. Verticals, including news and lifestyle and business shows the need for integrated content. He doesn't point to any specific traffic numbers, but say that the promotional value CNET (NSDQ: CNET) gets on CBS properties are surely having an affect. "It's on the Early Show at least once every other day and we're promoting and CNET on our local stations. We're very pleased." What's been the biggest surprise? Moonves answers, "I learned having the sales manager and general manager in a separate silos works. The integration of sales and the integration of marketing is the key. While a lot of sales are direct to CNET or CBS interactive, they can also benefit from our network sales force."

-- Cable challenge: Broadcast networks can certainly live without cableand oh, broadcasters would love to return to those days, wouldn't they?but cable can't live without non-pay TV nets. Moonves: "They don't have 22 hours of original programs a week like we do; they only one or two shows. So they're still going to need the off-net to have programming to run. Plus, cable channels don't have the budget for more original programming." As for DVD sales, Moonves is also cheerful, saying the market for TV programs is still strong compared to film DVD sales. VOD will erode that, as will iTunes. But we're not there yet. We don't know how much cannibalization will be a factor. In the meantime, we're still seeing double digit growth for our DVD sales."

By David Kaplan