Proving once again that he can generate multiple story angles from a single quarterly earnings call, CBS Corp. chief executive Les Moonves delivered a typically confident Q4 download to investors Thursday.
For starters, he told Wall Street to stop looking for CBS to seek or welcome a merger amid the consolidating pay-TV market.
"From Verizon (NYSE: VZ) to Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC), from Cox to Dish (NASDAQ: DISH), through all of our affiliate deals we have proven time and time again that distributors can't live without CBS," Moonves told investors. "This is true for large bundles and small, and we don't need any other assets to get these deals done on the best possible terms. The power of our own content drives our success both in negotiations and from an operating perspective as well."
Never one to believe that his side doesn't hold the leverage, Moonves also messaged the ad community. He said Madison Avenue will soon accept ratings that measure viewing of commercials seven days after broadcast with the "C7" rating. The current standard ratings currency is three days (C3).
"The C7 deals will be the most common currency," Moonves told analysts. "And there will also be deals that are longer than C7."
Oh, and if media buyers don't like that, he also predicted that CBS would recoup $5 million for each 30-seconds of Super Bowl ad time in February 2016.
"Five to six million dollars for a 30-second spot sounds pretty good to me," Moonves said.
As for CBS' Q4 financials, net earnings fell to $402 million from $422 million a year prior. CBS did manage to grow ad revenue by 4 percent, despite the soft market, thanks largely to the strong performance of Thursday Night Football and political advertising by local stations.
Moonves says CBS can go it alone; Verizon agrees to lease more than 11K towers
Moonves on CBSN: 'We call it the Cable Bypass News Channel'
Moonves responds to Ergen: 'You're going to miss those Broncos games'