CBS CEO turned down ad-split Apple TV subscription deal

“CBS CEO Les Moonves is known to occasionally drop pieces of information that he’s not supposed to on his company’s earnings calls, and this quarter was no exception. When asked about CBS’s appetite for striking deals with new streaming providers that might not have the money to pay cash upfront to license its content, Moonves said that CBS had decided against joining an Apple TV service because it was based on an ad split,” Ryan Lawler reports for GigaOM.

“Apple had long been rumored to be working on a subscription streaming service that would aggregate content from multiple TV networks and compete against more traditional cable and satellite services. That product ended up never coming to market, as Apple was apparently unable to convince enough content providers to join,” Lawler reports. “But no one had publicly confirmed that such an offering was actually in the works until today.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Lynn Weiler” for the heads up.]


  1. Moonves is an idiot who will change his mind after he realizes the mistake of not being on the next big thing apple does. Just like Verizon missed out on the initial profit.

      1. To be fair, Verizon did not have serious chances for early iPhone since it operates rather obscure, weird cell network with little support elsewhere worldwide. So obviously the first iPhone had to be GSM phone.

      1. Setting such a precedent would be very foolish. Offering their own cash for the content upfront to CBS would easily convince others to balk at any ad-based deals. Apple cannot afford to burn ANY of the $80+ billion of their warchest on anyone’s content.

        Not to mention that the deal fell through (apparently) because Apple actually wanted a piece of the ad revenue for themselves. In other words, not only did they not want to pay for content out of their own warchest, but they wanted to share in profits from it with the content owners.

        Apple is in a great position against the content owners, as it had single-handedly saved the music industry from eventual destruction. However, sometimes, they may be overplaying this hand (and Steve was well known for that). He genuinely believed that Apple was offering an incredible value to CBS by giving them access to AppleTV customers, so he thought he should be entitled to a portion of the ad revenue that CBS content generates on AppleTV. CBS, being a typical Hollywood content owner, couldn’t possibly imagine the nerve of Steve, hoping to get this, the most coveted of all things media, CBS’s original content, and, listen to this, asking for money from THEM??? The deal went sour, probably because Steve didn’t have his usual energy to stare Moonvens down and force him to capitulate.

  2. It’s probably not too difficult to add torrent support on the Apple TV by default. (Of course, there are legitimate channels for legal torrent downloads, and surely, when pressed, Apple trusts all its customers to do the right thing by limiting/helping themselves only to the legal stuff).

    Since TV’s only a hobby, why not allowing (or opening the floodgates) to share contents between users worldwide (with the ease of Apple’s renowned UI simplicity) to convince/educate the network pinheads the way of “with you or without” winds of progress.

    1. Someone has to pay for the content to be made. Who will pay for it in your version of what Apple should do?

      Android users want everything for free. Windows users want everything for free. Apple users pay for what they use generally.

      1. Just as with the music industry, the time of pirating content would be short term. When the execs realize they’re losing money by not going with apple in the first place, they’ll quickly change their tune.

        1. I’m pretty sure pirating of TV shows isn’t really a big issue and won’t be for as long as over-the-air broadcasting (the bastion of the major networks) is going on.

          Who needs to pirate when it’s free, and you can record to watch whenever you want?

          For the non-broadcast networks (HBO, Showtime, etc.) it’s a different matter.

          1. Except, when you download a pirated content, seldom do you get ads, get empowered by the à la carte model, and watch what you want, when you want on what you want/can. Traditional TV is bypassed, Nielson can only report what has been watched on the traditional route: viewership has been on downward trend and it’s not just because of the interwebz/facebooking.

            If you hang out at the dorms, or many foreign countries, pirating is rampant. It’s more than a tickle, and the DVD box sells are also taking a hit. All of this hurts now or will hurt significantly later.

            None of this is Apple’s doing. But Apple can make things much better, or inflict greater harm by simply enabling a virus free method of “content sharing” in an “honour system” with a GUI so easy to use, even a parent can use it. With no explicit agreements in place, Apple won’t owe the media execs any explanations, and torrenting is not illegal, pirating is.

            Google already does that, Pirate Bay supports all kinds of mainstream tracking stuff, including Google’s.

  3. Would Apple have done a CDMA phone for Verizon in 2007, when they were busy rolling out GSM iPhones for the rest of the world? To this day I’m not so sure. IMO, that’s why they went with AT&T.

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