Moonves predicts double-digit sales increases

CBS chief foresees big upfront

CBS Corp. topper Leslie Moonves predicted the network will see double-digit increases in its upfront advertising sales this summer.

“Let the games begin,” he declared in his remarks to investors Wednesday at the Deutsche Bank media confab in Palm Beach, Fla.

Speaking to the Deutsche Bank media conference Wednesday, Moonves was the first exec so far to throw out an upfront forecast. News Corp. chief operating officer Chase Carey and Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman said Tuesday that it was too early to tell.

“I know people say I’m cocky, and I sort of am,” Moonves said.

He said the net plans to retire at least one older show this season but didn’t say which. The net in the past few years has been steadily retiring its older, more expensive shows for newer entrants.

Moonves reiterated that CBS doesn’t view Netflix as competition, is producing an original show for the service and generally has no problem producing programming for online or streaming consumption via outlets including YouTube.

“We will produce for everybody. We have 22 hours of primetime, sports, latenight, news. I don’t view Netflix or any of those people who are talking about original content as a threat to us,” he said.

CBS is also producing a show for USA and developing one for Turner.

As the Republican primary heats up, Moonves estimated the local stations will take in between $150 million and $180 million in political advertising this cycle based on the previous presidential race and midterm elections last year. “I hope closer to $180 (million) because of what’s happening nationally” with lots of acrimony between candidates and parties. He said super PACs “have sort of changed the amount of money in the marketplace” to the benefit of broadcasters.

Political action committees can spend unlimited amounts to promote candidates.