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CBS CEO: ‘Dexter Selling Great on DVD’

22 Sep, 2010 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Burgeoning consumer demand for fictional serial killer “Dexter” underscores the strength of TV DVD, Leslie Moonves, president and CEO of CBS Corp., Sept. 22 told an investor group in New York.

Moonves said the popular serial, which enters its fifth season Sept. 26 starring Golden Globe winner Michael C. Hall, has helped drive Showtime Networks subscriber growth and related packaged-media sales of the critically acclaimed program (in addition to “Weeds”) by consumers who don’t get (or want to pay for) the CBS-owned cable channel.

“Dexter is selling great on DVD, and the Showtime stuff usually does because there are only 18 million homes that it’s in,” Moonves said. “[TV DVD] hasn’t slowed down nearly as much as the feature film business has.”

The CEO, who admitted packaged media remained a minor contributor to total content revenue, said alternative distribution platforms for content — such as ad-supported Hulu, Apple TV and Netflix — are generating much of the hype, if not necessarily much incremental revenue.

“We didn’t join Hulu because we felt we wanted to be in control of our own content,” Moonves said, adding that with proprietary websites TV.com and CBS.com offering archived episodes, he felt it best that CBS refrain from entering into exclusive license deals for programming.

“I want to be able to have the flexibility to move [programming] around, which is why Hulu for us was not a good proposition,” he said.

The CEO said he questioned whether 99 cents for episodic TV programming on Apple TV and iTunes was the right price point.

“I don’t necessarily want to rent my shows to another service at the beginning of the [TV network] year,” he said, adding that CBS would re-evaluate Apple TV next year. “Obviously, the watchword of today for all the media companies is ‘How do I maximize my revenue for the content?’”

Moonves said the proliferation of distribution channels requires weighing the impact each new channel has on existing channels. The executive said he is much more interested in Hulu Plus, the $10/monthly subscription service being rolled out.

“It’s a potential thing for us,” Moonves said. “[The paid subscription model] makes a lot more sense to us than [ad-supported] Hulu does. It is something we are looking at very closely, and it is something you could see us participating in.”

The executive said he also welcomed further scrutiny of Netflix, its nascent streaming service and whether the online disc rental pioneer wants to become a cable service substitute or MSO (multi-service operator). Mooves said it has been proven that Netflix will pay for valued catalog content.

“As soon as we figure out what they are then we’ll be able to do business with them,” he said.

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