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Leslie Moonves Says CBS Plans to Renew Freshman Shows, Pursuing NFL Streaming Rights for All Access

Good news for “Supergirl,” “Limitless” and the rest of CBS’ freshman lineup — CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves says the network plans to renew five new shows from the 2015-16 season.

Speaking at an investor conference in Palm Beach, Fla., on Tuesday morning, Moonves expressed optimism about the fate of the network’s new shows: “We have five new shows on the air. Of the five, I believe all five of them will be renewed. And we own four of them,” he noted at the Deutsche Bank 2016 Media, Internet & Telecom Conference in Florida.

That means likely renewals for “Code Black,” “Limitless,” “Life in Pieces” and “Supergirl,” although the fifth show is in question, given that Jane Lynch-led comedy “Angel From Hell” was pulled from the schedule after five airings in February (usually a precursor to cancellation), and new dramas “Rush Hour” — based on the 1998 film — and “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders” have yet to premiere.

The CBS topper also discussed the Eye’s 2016-17 lineup, noting that CBS has ordered 17 pilots for coming season. “You will not see more than four or five new shows ordered out of those 17,” he said, because the network has a stable roster of programs and few holes to fill.

“We don’t need that much,” Moonves said. He emphasized CBS’ intent to own most of the programs it puts on air, so it can monetize them more fully when trying to sell them to international outlets, subscription-video-on-demand companies or other parties.

CBS’ ratings have stood out this season, but it hasn’t been immune to audience erosion — “Supergirl” hit another season low last week, notching a 1.4 in adults 18-49 and falling behind Fox’s “Gotham” for the first time — about 30% below CBS’ comedies in the hour a year ago. “Limitless” also hit another low last week, dipping to a 1.1 in the demo, and down 35% from “Person of Interest” in the time slot a year ago. “Code Black” ended its modest run last month, while “Life and Pieces” is the season’s No. 1 new comedy, retaining about 55% of its lead-in from “The Big Bang Theory” and maintaining steady numbers throughout the season.

The network has yet to announce any official pick-ups.

Separately, Moonves said the company was satisfied with a recent deal struck with the National Football League that will give CBS five “Thursday Night Football” games instead of the eight it broadcast last season. The NFL has decided to run five other Thursday-night games on NBC in 2016. Moonves suggested the deal made economic sense for CBS and said the network would run the five games at the start of the TV season before launching more traditional prime-time fare on Thursdays in October and November.

Moonves said CBS is also in negotiations with the league to secure streaming rights to all of the NFL games the network carries for the CBS All Access SVOD service. At present CBS has to block those games from airing on the All Access live stream. CBS’ push comes as the NFL is pursuing yet another rights deal with a non-TV streaming service for its package of “Thursday Night Football” games.

“We are in discussions about getting it on All Access. We think that will happen,” Moonves said. “Obviously the NFL will get a piece of our subscriber fee (and) will also get bonuses as they add people. I think it’s something that once again is inevitable. It will happen, discussions continue to be ongoing with the NFL, and we think it will be valuable to get them.”

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