Can CBS really afford to become a cable network?
CEO Les Moonves is joining Fox in making this threat in their battle with upstart Aereo. That would cost the Tiffany Network big bucks.
Bloomberg quotes CBS CEO Les Moonves (pictured) as saying "We can do it in a few days." What he doesn't mention, of course, is that such a move would have huge financial consequences. Most TV advertising is sold in advance and is priced based on the number of viewers a network expects to attract. When networks don't meet these guarantees, they provide advertisers what are known as "make goods," essentially free commercial time.
CBS, which is currently the most-watched network, charges steep prices for 30-second spots for its hit shows such as "Big Bang Theory" ($275,573), "Two Broke Girls" ($269,235) and "Two and a Half Men" ($247,261), according to Advertising Age. If the broadcast network converted to cable, the audience for these shows -- along with the rest of its lineup -- would shrink.
It's difficult to say by how much. About 15% of households don't have pay TV services, and the numbers of "cord cutters," -- those abandoning both broadcast and cable TV for online viewing -- though small overall, appears to be growing.
Big money is at stake. During last year's "upfronts," when networks preview their shows for the new TV season, CBS got commitments from advertisers valued at as much as $2.6 billion, according to The New York Times. Of course, CBS wants to protect its hefty investment in original content and the billions it expects to earn over the next few years in retransmission fees.
Although some pundits have argued that the networks could make up their losses in advertising through gains in retransmission fees, I'm skeptical that such a scenario would happen -- and judging from their fierce opposition to Aereo, so are the broadcast networks.
Unfortunately for them, they've lost every legal battle so far against Aereo. At some point, they may have to figure a way to live with the service, which is backed by IAC/InterActiveCorp. (IACI) chairman Barry Diller, who's not used to losing or backing down.
Jonathan Berr owns a small position in CBS. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.
Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.
[BRIEFING.COM] The major averages ended the midweek session with slim gains after showing some intraday volatility in reaction to the release of the latest policy directive from the Federal Open Market Committee. The S&P 500 added 0.1%, while the relative strength among small caps sent the Russell 2000 higher by 0.3%.
Equities spent the first half of the session near their flat lines as participants stuck to the sidelines ahead of the FOMC statement, which conveyed no changes to the ... More
More Market News
Fed keeps important 'considerable time' language in reference to short-term interest rates, but dissents and dots leave doubts.
MUST-SEE ON MSN
- Video: Easy DIY smoked meats at home
A charcuterie master shares his process for cold-smoking meat at home.
- Jetpacks about to go mainstream
- Weird things covered by home insurance
- Bing: 70 percent of adults report 'digital eye strain'