Larry Magid: CBS’ Moonves Talks Content, Colbert, And The Digital Era At CES

LAS VEGAS (KCBS)— CBS President and CEO Les Moonves addressed a Las Vegas crowd Wednesday at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) where he said technology is changing media landscape for the better. The significance here is that he’s the head of a traditional broadcast network, which have had trouble adapting and monetizing their product in the digital era.

We should point out that CBS is this website’s and KCBS’ parent company. But Moonves called his network a “content company” alluding to the buzzwords of the times. He said if they produce great content that they have to get it to a place where people can consume it.

I was at Moonves’ address and it was noteworthy that he was essentially talking about taking the “B” (broadcasting) out of CBS in a sense.

It doesn’t matter to him if people are consuming CBS’ content on television, radio, online, on their phones and/or mobile devices. Wherever it is, it’s all about getting the content to where people can appreciate it.

His job as CEO is to figure out a way to make money on that content and to some extent, he has.

Advertising in the online world compared to traditional broadcasters has been more efficient as far as budgeting goes and Moonves did touch on that.

They’re really starting to catch up in thinking outside the traditional box in taking advantage of all the technological avenues to promote their broadcast content and why shouldn’t they?

They have new ventures like the new CBS News streaming channel, CBSN, a 24-hour cable bypass, similar to CNN, but available on whatever digital device you want, be it your Roku, smartphone or mobile device.

You don’t necessarily have to have a cable or satellite subscription or antennae on your roof. In fact, Moonves said there are currently some 10 million homes that don’t have any kind of broadcast television reception. They’re getting their content online.

Moonves made some other comments indicating that old formats for measuring overnight ratings are virtually useless now because content has legs. I assume not some things like breaking news, but a lot of content gets used over and over again over a long period of time so it doesn’t really matter much who’s watching at 8 p.m. on a Tuesday night.

Finally, bringing in Stephen Colbert to take over The Late Show from David Letterman has a lot to do with his social media presence and status being seen as an investment to the company.

It didn’t occur to me. I thought great talent, great guy, but he’s much more social media friendly than the older generation of late-night talk show hosts and that is one way that the company can continue to monetize.

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