Moonves Says CBS Still In Negotiations With Apple Over TV Service

Leslie Moonves, the CEO of CBS, talked about its negotiations with Apple over its rumored upcoming TV service today at Code Conference.

“Apple TV is trying to change the universe a bit…I think the age of the 200 channel universe is slowly dying,” said Moonves. The average home has between 100 and 150 channels, but the average home is watching between 14 and 17 of these channels regularly. I think what Apple will offer…is a more select group for a lower price. We look at Apple TV…it’s an ongoing conversation — I met with [Apple media head] Eddy Cue last week to talk about it.”

Moonves did say that CBS would ‘probably’ sign up for the service, adding “we’re very excited about it.”

Moonves also said that an Apple TV service would also work within its normal affiliate network, and CBS would give a cut of whatever base rate Apple provided to it to those affiliates.

The service has been rumored to be bound up in negotiations with TV broadcasters like CBS and others over offering local channels on its new service. A new piece of Apple TV hardware is said to be launching at Apple’s WWDC conference the week after next.

If CBS is still in negotiations with Cue over the shape and form of the rumored service, then it could very well be delayed beyond Apple’s announcement next month. Negotiations between media companies and Apple have a long history of going to the 11th hour, so there is still a possibility that they could get there in time.

The problem doesn’t appear to be technology. When Moonves asked what the holdup was he replied, simply, “money.”

Interviewer Kara Swisher then asked whether Moonves would be interested in Apple buying CBS.

“As a major shareholder that’s attractive to me,” Moonves joked. “They’ve got a lot of money laying around.”

“We’re being watched by more people now than we were 10 years ago,” Moonves noted about CBS audiences. “Seventy percent or more of our audience still watches in the time period where the show is,” says Moonves. “The other 30 percent are watching it elsewhere. Is that number (70 percent) getting less? Absolutely.

“The average person in America is watching television five hours a day, I know that sounds like a terrible statistic…[but] not for me it’s not,” he joked.