CBS CEO spurned Steve Jobs’ offer to participate in television service

“CBS CEO Leslie Moonves said Saturday that he was approached about a year ago by Steve Jobs to provide content for Apple’s long-rumored television service but he declined to participate,” Matthew Belloni reports for The Hollywood reporter.

“Moonves told a conference audience that he met with Jobs, the late Apple CEO, and heard a pitch for what was billed as a subscription content service, but ultimately he said he wasn’t interested in providing CBS shows or films to the venture,” Belloni reports. “‘I told Steve, ‘You know more than me about 99 percent of things but I know more about the television business,” Moonves said, citing his concerns about providing content to a service that could disrupt CBS’ existing revenue streams.

Belloni reports, “Moonves said Jobs, in characteristic fashion, strongly disagreed with his assessment.”

“Moonves said he was bullish on political advertising from Super- PACs fueling the bottom line at CBS-owned stations,” Belloni reports. “‘It may be bad for America but it’s good for CBS,’ Moonves joked.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Someday, someway, we will end up with a system that’s a lot closer to Steve Jobs’ vision than that of Les Moonves.


      1. Depends if you followed the Superbowl. Or how you define “mattered”–they have a number of very popular shows but that doesn’t make them “matter” any more (or less) than ABC, NBC, Fox, etc.

    1. Belloni reports. “‘It may be bad for America but it’s good for CBS,’ Moonves joked.”

      Right there, that is the problem. Corporate interests are not inline what so ever with the betterment of the country. You can actually do both. But this guy is taking the easy path toward revenue and has blinders on when it comes to the future of network television. When Moonves says Steve Jobs knows 99% of things but I know more about the television business,” He not thinking beyond next quarter’s revenue. What a douche bag.

      His type of thinking is thinking only inside the cubicle. Think different, Moonves and learn from the music industries past hubris. Generating income from super PACs does not sound like a sustainable model. Moonves, do you want to sell the agenda’s of super PACs or change the world?

  1. I like a lot of the CBS shows myself, but CBS is one of the worst to try and watch online.
    No iPad app, although haven’t looked in a while.
    NBC and ABC both have streaming apps… And a lot easier to watch those shows online.

    CBS just wants more money.

  2. Crazy to see the TV business so happy to provide support for Netflix but not for a subscription-based TV service on iTunes. Shows they’re willing to experiment, but only if there’s no chance of actually changing anything.

  3. The music industry thought the same thing. What could Steve Jobs possibly know about the music industry? Now it’s happening with TV. Those like Les Moonves and others may not like where their industry is headed but more and more options are now available that don’t require you to purchase 740 channels for $160 per month.

  4. As a “content provider” (I own a small weekly newspaper), I can understand the pause that these CEOs exhibit when it comes to paradigm shifts. In my business, we’ve watched as daily newspapers guessed wrong with the Internet. Frankly, they gave away too much content and devalued their product in the process. No one things they should have to pay for stories anymore. It’s a long story, but they also relied too heavily on syndicated content, which left them with very little differentiation.

    I’ve sat back and watched this happen, and as a result my website isn’t very good on purpose. I don’t give much away, and soon my e-edition will live behind a paywall. I’ve waited to launch until I knew it could at least break even for me or make a bit of money.

    That all said, these television guys need to understand that they are not the music industry or newspapers. They all have unique content for one. What they need to understand is that the shift to whatever Apple does won’t happen overnight and even if it takes off quickly (which it surely might), for many years there will still be a market for the “old” way because millions of people will move slowly toward the future.

    Had larger newspapers cherished their original content more and gone quickly to well-thought out e-publishing, the rampant devaluation of their content may not have happened. As weekly newspapers, we are all about original content and still have a fighting chance. But if we ignore the technological trends (iPads a major one), then we will get bypassed somehow. And so will large television networks if Apple makes it really easy for independent filmmakers to distribute their content and a new revenue stream opens up that makes the quality of their work competitive with “the big boys”.

    Sorry, long post. But the short-sightedness of this CEO annoys me and I think it’s going to come back to bite him. Honestly, if Apple wants to give us a new experience they ought to consider using some of their billions to produce some incredible content to show the big networks and studios what the future looks like. Or, more accurately, to show consumers what the future looks like so that they demand the big content providers follow.

    1. The problem I see with that idea is that all the traditional papers would have had to agree to protect/charge for their respective original content. As soon as one major paper published their original content for free, they all had to or else risk their content not being viewed at all as everyone flocked to the free one(s).

      One can say people would’ve paid a subscription it was worth anything, but quantity of followers of a platform/message/opinion is sometimes preferred over quality.

      1. You’re right. They all would have had to agree and they didn’t.

        With small weekly papers, we don’t have the same problem because we’re the only ones giving regular coverage to our small markets. So I only have to agree with myself.

        Same with these t.v. guys. They have to look out for their affiliates (which might be one major hurdle and could be the cause of the problem) but there are far fewer television network parent companies than there were daily newspapers.

        I guess I don’t see why they can’t set up the system so that owners of Apple televisions can’t choose between paying $1.99 for a show or watching it for free with commercials (including local commercials based on your zip code).

        If Apple is trying to make watching television easier and richer, they could offer multiple ways of getting content so long as the networks cooperated.

    2. If your content is worthy of the clicks to generate ad revenue is won’t require the pay wall. Subscription news will fail on a small scale just as it does with a large scale. Especially in these times very few people in any market are going to value your pub enough more than everything free they will find instead. Statistics show that in the case of news online viewers won’t even do as much as register to view a news site let alone pay for it. I worked for a weekly that tried putting a paywall up for much of its content resulting in almost zero participation. The content is now all free or ad based monetization. Sounds like you are going backwards.

  5. Apple TVs, magically apparently, have turned on recognising purchased DVDs added to the iTunes on iCloud. One just step closer to a decentralised torrent… er.. sharing feature on the iTunes/iCloud video library between n number of friends and Moonves and Co. will be lining up in front of the 1 infinite loop begging audience with Mr. Cook.

    1. My wife and I have a bet on how soon we will see “CSI: Boise”, wherein the crack investigators will be tracing car stereo thieves and taggers. Ryan Seacrest will be the lead investigator, and the sexy assistant will be Jessica Simpson. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

    2. I gave up NCIS two years ago. On a show that always stretched credulity (like putting a trailer park in the middle of Ballston Commons, taking 5 minutes to drive from D.C. to Norfolk, or that whole Lauren Holly-Frog storyline), I just couldn’t take it anymore with the Port-to-Port Killer story arc. If I were the director of the real NCIS I’d be blowing a stack if my agency were being portrayed as dysfunctionally as NCIS portrays the NCIS.

      And Leslie needs to realize that while he sleeps the world is getting his CBS shows from BitTorrents of Canadian broadcasts.

  6. So let me see if I get this. This guy said no to a new revenue source. CBS (and any other network for that matter!) have over the air and cable and he said no to another income source; Even when Apple is the one providing the infrastructure. They most be rolling on money. Smart move there Mr. Moonves!

  7. Why be pissed off at Leslie ? Did it ever occur to anyone that maybe the deal he was offered blew chunks ?

    It was recently reported that Apple was offering to control everything, including pricing.

    This guy does not sound like an idiot for turning down a deal like that to me! The idiot would be the one who said “Sure here is full control over my business and I’ll live off whatever percentage of the revenue you decide to give back to me.”

    Sure apple having full control over video delivery might sound great for you and me, but that does not mean it makes business sense for a company like CBS.

    If apple is having such a hard time getting studios on board then maybe its not the studios who are to blame, maybe the deals apple is offering just flat out suck. Its something to ponder at the least.

    1. And you know this how? Maybe a personal interest or just an all around negative person.

      The deal is like all others offered, HBO has just signed up and they see a vested interest to increase new revenue.

      This is a Dell moment, I can just see the smirk of Mikey as he said to give the money back to stockholders and shut down Apple.

      Now look at his poor useless company and all the illegal dealings that fool has been found to do personally, forward looking he wasn’t and just like this fool, it will be the poster child for stupidity right up there with old Mikey and the rest of the idiots.

      1. Uh I never claimed to know anything about it. I said it was recently reported and that it was worth pondering if the deals apple is offering were any good.

        Just seems to me if the deal was good more of the media companies would be onboard. They obviously know the future is online. I don’t think its an issue of them not knowing about video online.

    1. Don’t forget asinine statements like “PC guys aren’t just going to come in and take over the smart phone business. It’s taken us YEARS to “get it right”.


      1. Actually, he didn’t even imply that they got it right. He said “We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone”.

        Not even g good phone; merely a decent one… Ed Colligan (Palm CEO, yes).

  8. There is a very valid reason why Moonvens didn’t want to deal with Apple. CBS is a television network. When you look at it from the content perspective, it is much more a “dumb pipe” than an actual creator of content. Majority of those CBS shows that they own are actually produced by someone else (Warner Brothers, Paramount, etc). When the balance of power shifts from TV networks towards Apple (as they rapidly gain more loyal viewership than networks), the producing studios may easily begin pitching their shows directly to Apple, rather than networks.

    If CBS easily agreed to make their shows available on Apple’s platforms, they would quickly give up the leverage they currently have as a network with millions of loyal customers. The TV ecosystem (a delicate balance of TV viewers and their prime-time habits, advertisers and their prime-time ad-space buying habits, content-producing studios and TV networks) has been in existence for the big part of a century. Any kind of disruption to such a system will be forcefully resisted by practically ALL players in it, since nobody in the old model will know how the new one works. Leveling the playing field suddenly would eliminate all the decades of leverage and power that was built by networks, studios and advertisers in the existing ecosystem.

    The main problem with this approach is exactly the same as in any industry where a “paradigm shift” approaches. The “head in the sand” syndrome (see RIM and Microsoft for a good example) never works well…

    1. Right on. It’s only a matter of time before subscription ipTV, or whatever it winds up being called, has its first hit show at the right price point or advertising mix and the broadcast network monopoly is dead. Cable, the content provider, and its space-borne cousin is dying even faster.

      Why pay $100 a month, endure the commercials and have great gobs of stuff you care nothing for included in the bundle? This is albums all over again. The survivors will be the actual content creators with a song to sing or a story to tell, and their connection to the viewers will be more direct than ever. This is a good thing.

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