Amid the swirl of controversy, CBS’s executives sought to project a business-as-usual confidence during the media company’s second quarter earnings call that emphasized the growth of its streaming services.
Embattled Chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves said the media company’s direct-to-consumer offerings, CBS All Access and Showtime OTT, are growing faster than anticipated. The streaming services are on track to reach 8 million subscribers by 2019, a year earlier than projected, and will likely hit 16 million subscribers by 2022 — double the original target.
“We continue to build upon this success,” Moonves said, noting yesterday’s launch of CBSN Local, which live-streams local newscasts from major markets served by CBS stations, and offers a library of on-demand content.
Moonves said the 24-hour streaming sports news network CBS Sports HQ saw spikes in users around major events, including the NBA draft, the Triple Crown thoroughbred races and FIFA World Cup soccer. The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that opened the door to legalized sports betting opens a new source of ad revenue.
“When FanDuel and DraftKings were at their height, they were spending a fortune in advertising,” said Moonves, referring to the fantasy sports contests. “We think it’s a category that has an unbelievable upside.”
CBS’s premium content is fanning subscriber demand across all platforms, Moonves said. The executive touted CBS’s prime time television lineup that features six new shows this fall, including the highly anticipated revival of Murphy Brown starring Candice Bergen., Showtime’s acclaimed limited series Patrick Melrose starring Emmy-nominated actor Benedict Cumberbatch, to newly launched mystery series One Dollar on CBS All Access.
Comedian Sasha Baron Cohen’s return to television, after more than a decade, with the provocative seven-episode Showtime series Who is America? drove the greatest number of streaming signups in a single day, Moonves said.
“Original series continue to attract and retain audiences, no matter how they watch,” said Chief Operating Officer Joe Ianniello, noting CBS now produces 13 hours of original programming a day to feed its various entertainment platforms.
Moonves said he could see adding five shows over next couple of years to CBS All Access and Showtime’s stand-alone service. “They have a hunger to do more,” he said. “And as we have seen, more new shows means more subs.”
The CEO credited Amazon with propelling streaming subscriber growth.
“Amazon has been absolutely amazing in terms of growing our subs,” Moonves said. “They’ve been at the top of the list. We really like what they’re doing. We get more from them from any of our other partners.”