Leslie Moonves, Chief Executive Officer, President and Director of CBS, has described the operation of Internet TV streaming service as “theft” suggesting he is not losing any sleep over the outcome of the Supreme Court copyright case brought by the major US networks against the Barry Diller-backed company.
Anticipating an analyst question on CBS’s Q1 2014 Earnings Call, Moonves said: “I suppose this is the time to save you the question later by briefly addressing a topic that has gotten way more attention than it deserves, and that is the lovely Aereo. Aereo is theft. Pure and simple. Some are trying to shift the issue by erroneously suggesting it has to do with our prevention of the cloud or either future innovation. This couldn’t be further from the truth,” he stated.
Moonves was confident that the court would find Aereo to be illegal. “Regardless of the outcome, though, our growth outlook will be unaffected. We have long-term deals with our MVPD partners, and down the road, we’ll distribute our programming in the ways that make the most sense to us financially, all of them attractive. So I am not losing any sleep over Aereo,” he admitted.
Asked subsequently about plans to move to other distribution methods should Aereo be successful, Moonves said CBS had deals with most of its MVPDs for a “long, long time” to deliver its content. “If we would see the commercial viability, there are things we can do. We’re talking to people about OTT. We’re talking to people about delivering it directly to our consumers. We are thinking – we’re talking about doing Aereo amongst ourselves, if that became viable. So as I said, I don’t lose sleep out of it. We don’t think it’s a viable product. We don’t think we’re going to lose in the court. We don’t think it’s a viable product. And if it was, it won’t be viable because it won’t have our content.”