CBS Chief Executive Les Moonves doesn’t sound particularly worried about NBC’s decision to put Jay Leno in the 10:00 pm timeslot five nights a week. In fact, he sounds a bit giddy about the whole thing.
The way Moonves figures it, CBS could bank millions in additional revenue from the switch. Moonves described his thinking on a call with investors, using what he acknowledged were “ballpark” figures to make his point. Essentially he said that even if Leno does well the show simply will not attract the kind of advertising dollars of, say, “CSI”. That means CBS will take an even bigger share of the advertising money in primetime.
“Assume we were the No. 1 at 10:00 last year and we took in 38 percent of the revenue available at 10:00 on broadcast television. Remember, there are only three networks [Ed: Fox doesn't run competing programming at that hour] And assuming Jay Leno does great, does what he’s doing now. Suddenly, that 38 percent will turn into 45 percent, maybe 47 percent. So you take 10 percent more revenue in that time period. And 10 percent of an arguably many hundreds of millions of dollars pie is a lot of money.
That’s why we wish Jay well. We think this is a big plus for us and ABC in terms of revenue.”
The revenue would be welcome. CBS television’s operating income dropped 54 percent in the most recent quarter; ABC’s dropped 38 percent.