On the Call: CBS CEO Les Moonves

AP News
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Posted: Aug 02, 2012 7:50 PM
On the Call: CBS CEO Les Moonves

Is NBC's gain on the Olympics a downfall for other TV networks?

Sure seems to be.

On Thursday, CBS Corp. Chief Executive Les Moonves became the second major media company executive in two days to complain that the London Olympics were sucking all the oxygen out of the advertising market.

He was asked about it on a conference call following the company's second-quarter earnings results.

Both CBS and Time Warner Inc., owner of networks TNT and TBS, said that the so-called "scatter" market for last-minute ad buys was experiencing softness. They both said advertisers were spending more of their money on commercials for the Olympics, which have been more popular than forecast.

NBC owner Comcast Corp. said Wednesday that it now expects the Olympics to be break-even, or even profitable, because of better-than-expected audience sizes. Earlier, it thought the Games would lose $200 million.

Both rivals expected the dollars to flow back to their networks after the Games finished.

QUESTION: Les, given your experience, I was hoping you could talk about what you're seeing in the scatter marketplace. Is the 500 basis points or so slowdown that peers are seeing in third quarter ad growth normal relative to the Olympics impact? Is there any underlying softness in the scatter market that we should be concerned about?

RESPONSE: In terms of the scatter market, once again, in August, we don't worry about the scatter market, especially in an Olympic year, and especially for an Olympics that's doing this well. We've just sold such a great percentage of our inventory six weeks ago at the upfront. We are ready for the gun to go off in the middle of September. In terms of any softness, I think it's all attributable to the Olympics. It's something that is totally fine, totally business as usual. We're really pleased with the increase in the pacing of local. And in terms of the scatter for national, it is a nonissue.