CBS President and CEO Les Moonves, during the company’s quarterly earnings call, said that CBS is open to striking a deal with Apple for making its video content available on the Apple TV, as long as the deal is on terms decided by CBS execs.
Moonves had previously detailed his conversation with former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, in which he turned down an offer to be a part of Apple’s (not yet announced) subscription video service.
Moonves spoke about the Apple TV in response to a question by an analyst, who asked the CEO’s take on the device, now that even Hulu Plus made its way to Apple’s TV platform:
Look, Anthony [the analyst], you’ve — we’ve had this discussion many times before. You’re right, it depends what the terms are, it depends what we get paid for. It depends on what effect Apple TV would have on either our advertising, our syndication or our retrans, which are our three main buckets of revenue for our content. So if it fits in well, like Netflix did and Amazon did, we’re happy to discuss it. If it doesn’t and we’re — they’re using our content to build a business, we’re not quite as favorable to that. So the devil is in the details. I know it sounds like a pat answer, but it’s really true.
All of this talk basically boils down to money, and as Moonves says, CBS would readily sign a deal with Apple as long as its revenue stream isn’t disrupted.
The current Apple TV box now features video content from Netflix, Hulu Plus (which was quietly added earlier in the week), MLB.com, and NBA, and is considered to be indicative of what the full-blown Apple Television would turn out to be. Experts in the TV and digital media industry also speculate that Apple would adopt a completely new viewing model with the Apple Television.
Moonves’ rejection of Steve Jobs’ proposal indicates that whatever Apple had in mind for the Apple Television back in 2011 was indeed disruptive to CBS’ revenue stream. Whether Apple changes its model to suit content providers, or waits for its TV platform to become really popular, compelling providers to hop on to the platform, is something that we’ll know in the coming years.