CBS’ homage to the Sherlock Holmes myth, “Elementary,” is getting $2.7 million per episode in the aftermarket, according to the network’s top executive – the result of a demand for exclusive licensing windows from the emerging field of online-video streaming sites.
CBS in February struck a deal with Hulu Plus for exclusive rights to stream “Elementary,” currently in its second season, sometime after the show’s third campaign airs on the network. In late January, CBS cut a syndie deal with Tribune Co.’s WGN America for “Elementary,” which also will not begin until after the procedural drama’s third season on CBS.
“Elementary is a great show and a very successful show, but it’s not a grand slam,” Moonves said, while speaking to investors at a conference held by Morgan Stanley. But aftermarket prices are being driven upwards by a perceived need by cable networks and video streamers alike for exclusive access, he added “Hulu Plus wanted to take it off the market in SVOD [subscription video on demand],” said Moonves. WGN wanted similar terms,” he said.
CBS Corp. is smaller than many of its rivals, such as NBCUniversal or 21st Century Fox, and so it relies more heavily on its ability to generate broad-viewership hits which then prove popular with syndicators and aftermarket vendors. The ability to keep a pipeline full of shows with potential for aftermarket pick up is one of the signs investors monitor when viewing CBS Corp.
“Exclusivity is fine, as long as the price is right,” said Moonves.
This isn’t the first time the CBS chief has let slip eye-popping numbers for how much episodes of CBS shows generate from licensing deals. In December, he suggested Amazon was paying $700,000 per episode for the rights to stream last year’s first season of “Under the Dome.”