CBS head bullish on television business
Les Moonves recently offered a surprisingly upbeat assessment of advertising sales.
Speaking at a conference hosted by UBS, the head of America's most-watched TV network offered a surprisingly upbeat assessment of advertising sales. "Network television's doing better than it's done in many years," he said.
He added that CBS ad prices in the scatter market -- which sells advertising spots closer to a program's air date -- were up "in the mid-teens" from prices seen in the springtime upfront market. He also said that CBS' competitors "are doing not as well."
Moonves' comments are a bit surprising given that the advertising for the U.S. presidential election -- a huge money-maker for both network and local television -- has not begun in earnest. But the New York company clearly is benefiting from its stable of hits, including the sitcom "How I Met Your Mother", which recently posted the highest ratings of any regularly scheduled TV episode since 2009. It also won its 11th straight November ratings sweep in total viewers and its 9th straight among viewers aged 25-54.
One area where the Tiffany Network continues to lag is news. The "CBS Evening News" attracted 6.57 million viewers as of the end of November, trailing second place finisher ABC, owned by Walt Disney (DIS), with 8.15 million and NBC, owned by Comcast (CMCSA), with 9.74 million. Moonves also recently revamped CBS' struggling "Early Show", hiring hosts Charlie Rose and Gail King and promising viewers more hard news than more popular rivals.
In the eyes of Wall Street, CBS' strength in entertainment offsets its weaknesses. Shares of the media conglomerate rose more than 37% this year, surpassing Comcast, which has gained more than 6%, and Disney, which is little changed. Analysts are expecting the stock to rise further, with an average price target of $30.95, ahead of the $26.23 it closed at Tuesday.
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