On Any Screen, Super Stories Steal the Day, says CBS' Moonves
Leslie Moonves has a message for broadcasters wary of the onslaught of new platforms: Technology is your friend.
With each new technology arrival—whether it’s DVR, Twitter, online, Netflix or Amazon—CBS looks for ways to work together to maximize the reach and engagement of its programs, the network’s president and CEO said Tuesday at Nielsen’s Consumer 360 conference in Phoenix.
“Technology has been our friend, not our enemy,” he said. “Most shows start at the network level—then they travel all over the world.”
CBS looks at these technologies as opportunities to explore the “universe of content” on multiple devices—and great content wins, Moonves said.
He admitted he’s “pretty old-fashioned” himself in his choice of platform: He usually watches on a large-screen TV in his office or at home. But he also uses his iPad and other devices to watch television on the go.
A competitive instinct, a love for the media business and a great team has helped Moonves take CBS to the No. 1 spot and keep it there. Since the 2013 upfronts, the press has noted that Moonves, as the CEO of CBS, “is sitting on top of the world,” said Pat Mitchell, president and CEO of the Paley Center for Media, who moderated Moonves’ question-and-answer session at the conference.
But Moonves recalled a less-stellar moment in his career—when he rejected the initial “Survivor” pitch.
“I said that’s the worst idea I’ve ever heard in my life,” he said, laughing. “I said, ‘That sounds like a bad cable show to me.’”
But after a summer test run, Moonves was thrilled when “Survivor” proved him wrong—and went on to become a huge franchise for CBS.
With help from his team, Moonves goes through extraordinary measures in choosing which shows to greenlight and how to schedule them. Calling himself a normal guy, he follows his gut—and the research—find the sweet spot of great content for a broad audience.
Careful measurement and research make up a big part of the process. In its work driven by David Poltrack and in collaboration with Nielsen, CBS has identified multiple segments including a valuable audience it calls the “media trendsetters.”
This audience includes sports and program enthusiasts; it’s multiethnic and young; and it’s comfortable with social media. By illuminating this audience is, advertisers are able to reach them more effectively, and CBS can offer them better programs.