Goldman Sachs Communacopia: Leslie Moonves, Co-COO, Viacom

Sensitive to its pending split, Viacom filed the transcripts of Communacopia presentations by co-COOs Tom Freston and Leslie Moonves. From those of us who have been listening to session after session to the IR person at Viacom: thank you. I’ve already reported on Freston’s presentation. Turns out he was a lot more willing to use numbers than Moonves, who will head the CBS Corp. after the split. Here are some highlights from his q-and-a with GS analyst Anthony Noto:
Content still rules: “As we look down the road with the Internet, with satellite, with VOD, with cellular, no matter how you look at it they still need our shows. The play is the thing, it’s always been the thing for 400 years since Shakespeare and it exists today and I don’t care how you get it, whether you get it over Dick’s (Parsons) cable channels or over satellite you’re still going to need programming, you’re still going to need content. And between news, sports, entertainment, syndication, etc., we’re in a great place.”

CNN: Moonves reiterated the company’s interest in acquiring CNN “if Mr. Parsons wanted to sell.” Nothing new there but never hurts to ask.

CBS Digital: “Without getting specific and without getting into specific numbers, we have … very aggressive Internet plans. We just began a 24/7 news operation and we’re calling that the cable bypass, whereby when people come home they’re going to turn on their Internet and that’s where they’re going to get their news … When you have a business like ours where we have a ton of content, and a lot it is unused content. We do a 22-minute newscast every night; we have about 30 hours of material that we’ve shot for that day. You can get that now on the Internet and we’re starting to get paid for it. We just began this service about three months ago and the results have been fairly phenomenal in terms of the growth. Once again, we were starting from a low basis but we think that’s where the explosion is. SportsLine once again will be very profitable; we’re just tapping into our entertainment site.”

Going digital across the company: “Radio is doing podcasting right now, Outdoor is getting involved with digital. The world is a very different place than it was even two or three years ago. So I think you’re going to see a great deal of expansion on every single part of the new CBS Corporation.”

Programming: Moonves doesn’t expect viewers to watch CSI as a stream but says they’re playing the CSI game online and will soon see two-minute versions on mobile phones. “It’s about how we utilize our content in different ways, shapes and forms.”

Still an old media fan: The expansion of new media at CBS doesn’t mean Moonves is abandoning his roots. “Well, there are a lot people who want to say, ‘it’s old media, it’s dead media.’ I’ll take my old media any day. I really will. Some of the new media is a little bit overrated. I know it’s sexier to say, ‘Oh, I’m in this, I’m in this, I’m in this.'” CBS is a very solid, profit-making organization, our stations have grown every year. … Yes, habits are changing somewhat and to ignore the Internet would be stupid and we’re certainly not doing it. But we still have a very good base.”

Acquisitions: CNN aside, Moonves said they don’t need a major acquisition to feel like a complete company. They doesn’t mean they won’t buy. “Obviously we want to get more heavily involved with the Internet. But some of the recent deals that went out there wouldn’t fit what we’re doing. Now, a company like IGN does not fit with CBS. Companies that would be involved with our core companies we’d be interested in.”
Webcast. Transcript.