TVBizwire

Moonves Signals Aggressive Upfront Goals for CBS Adweek

CBS’s sales team will go after the highest possible CPM increases in the upcoming upfront market, CBS Corp. President and CEO Les Moonves told investors Wednesday, Adweek reports. Moonves commented during the company’s first-quarter earnings report.

Moonves said CBS has its sights set on rate increases in the "high-single to low-double-digit" range.

"’And there you have it, the numbers you have been waiting for,’ Moonves cracked, a nod to how anxious analysts have been to hear him thump his chest in time-honored fashion,” the report notes.

Moonves said, “Pricing increases will look very similar to last year,” when CBS secured 9% CPM hikes and booked about $2.65 billion in advance commitments, the piece notes, adding: “Moonves earlier that spring had agitated for hikes of 10% or greater.”

The story reports: “While Moonves' bluster was a return to form -- in February, he joked that his sales department would murder him if he were to make another outsized prediction -- it flies in the face of what media buyers have been saying in recent weeks. Suggesting that demand for broadcast inventory has reached its apogee, many senior TV buyers are saying that they are unlikely to write CPM premiums in excess of 6%.”

The report adds: “Wall Street watchers are following the agencies' lead. Barclays media analyst Anthony DiClemente said he sees similar pricing patterns, noting that CPMs in aggregate are likely to increase by 6%. DiClemente added that he believes that ratings king CBS will continue to outperform, booking 6.5% rate increases, while boosting dollar volume 10.5% to $2.93 billion.”

CBS is in a strong position relative to its broadcast rivals. “It not only beats all comers in reach, averaging 12 million viewers per night, but it also has the crucial 18-49 and 25-54 demos all wrapped up,” the piece notes.

“Thanks in large part to the estimated $263 million in Super Bowl XLVII ad bookings, CBS saw Q1 ad sales revenue jump 8% versus the prior-year period. The company said scatter rates are now up in the double digits,” the story reports. “Net earnings came in at $463 million, up 22% from $394 million a year ago.”