CBS Has Big Plans For Online Video

It’s no secret that ad revenue for television isn’t what it used to be. Major networks are having a hard time meeting expectations when advertisers don’t want to pay top dollar to advertise during their top-tier programming. So what’s a top network like, say, CBS to do? Well, CBS president and CEO Les Moonves is turning to streaming video to make up the difference, according to what he told investors during a call to discuss the network’s second quarter earnings.


Moonves stressed that some of the network’s moderately successful shows are actually performing far better with online viewers. As audiences move, online networks and the ad agencies that judge their performance have been slow to keep up. While advertisers look at shows like CBS’s “Elementary” and see an audience around 9 million, Moonves claims that the number of viewers jumps substantially to 14 million when you factor in DVR and video-on-demand viewers who watch the show outside of its normal time slot.


Perhaps Moonves gained this insight from his wife, Julie Chen, host of the reality show “Big Brother.” The reality competition is a prime example of how digital trends can change the picture dramatically for advertisers. Though a middling performer in terms of ratings, “Big Brother” captures a much larger audiences with its uncensored live streams through which fans can follow their favorite contestants 24/7.

Moonves believes that CBS can offset the falling price of television advertising by showing marketers the hidden value of digital audiences. He also suggested that in the future the network’s production division, CBS Television Studios, would produce more shows for digital platforms instead of focusing exclusively on broadcast television. The network is already exploring partnerships that would bring its existing content to Netflix and Amazon and potentially lead to the production of exclusive shows for digital.

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