Eye, Peacock duke it out over profits

Moonves, Zucker exchange barbs

It’s not enough for NBC and CBS to duke it out in the Nielsen ring. The webs now are going to the mat over who reigns supreme in the measurement that really counts: Primetime profits.

CBS topper Leslie Moonves threw down the gauntlet Tuesday, claiming the Eye had edged out NBC as the most profitable web in primetime — an assertion backed up by an April study by analysts at Kagan World Media.

Peacock entertainment prexy Jeff Zucker took the bait Wednesday, citing a March study by Morgan Stanley that proclaimed NBC “the most profitable overall and primetime network.”

Zany Zucker then decided to have a little fun, inviting Moonves — who tested his thesp chops this season on “The Practice” — to guest on NBC’s reality skein “Meet My Folks,” which features contestants hooked up to a lie detector.

“Remember, just because Les says something doesn’t mean its true,” Zucker said. “The idea that CBS is or will be the most profitable network in primetime is one of the most laughable claims of the year.”

Responding to the “Meet My Folks” invite, a CBS insider cracked, “We only participate in successful reality shows.”

Of course, both sides confessed that by fueling the fire, they got to remind everyone that both NBC and CBS are making money these days.

“Arguing who makes more money is a good problem to have,” said CBS spokesman Chris Ender.

And Zucker admitted the argument was “silly,” since “both CBS and NBC are making very nice profits in primetime.”

Meanwhile, not wanting to miss a good grudge match, Fox TV Entertainment Group chair Sandy Grushow reminded reporters that his net posts profits in primetime as well — and offered Zucker and Moonves a shot at one of his reality skeins.

“We’re going to do a new version of ‘Man vs. Beast’ this summer starring Les and Jeff — it’s up to you guys to decide who’s who,” he joked.

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