At an entertainment symposium in Los Angeles, CBS CEO Leslie Moonves said that he was approached by Steve Jobs a year ago about a content licensing deal for the much rumored Apple Television, which he turned down.
Jobs’ wanted CBS to provide their TV shows and films for Apple’s “subscription content service,” which included a clause wherein CBS was supposed to split ad revenues with Apple.
Matthew Belloni at The Hollywood Reporter writes:
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.
“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. Moonves said Jobs, in characteristic fashion, strongly disagreed with his assessment.
Jobs had faced similar opposition when he set out to talk with music labels to build the iTunes music store. He managed to get some of them on board at launch, and eventually almost every popular music label offered their content on the iTunes Store.
Would the situation turn out to be the same this time round?
Well, that depends on how successful the “Apple Television” is. The main reason music labels caved into offering music on iTunes was due to the iPod’s popularity, and if Apple’s Television indeed sells a lot, CBS would be forced to sign some sort of deal with Apple to reach audiences using the device. However, unlike the pre-iTunes era, there do exist some good options to stream TV shows and movies online presently, the best example of which is, of course, Netflix.
And it’s not like CBS is completely absent from the “digital video revolution.” It has licensed its content to Netflix, Amazon and Apple itself for the iTunes Store.