CBS Says Apple Planned Stream TV with Shared Ad Funding

Posted by at 11:08 am on November 4, 2011

CBS chief Les Moonves may have inadvertently confirmed Apple’s negotiations for a streaming TV service during the company’s fiscal results call. He claimed that CBS had turned down a deal for a service because it would have split ad revenues. The executive didn’t give details of what the service would have involved.

The mention of ad revenue implies that the service would have been free or heavily discounted. If so, CBS’ decision to decline revenue would have been consistent with its refusal to sign on to Hulu like rival studios Disney/ABC, Fox, and NBCUniversal. It often insists on direct licensing fee payments, and Apple is well-known for refusing to make exceptions for deals unless it has no choice.

CBS has since made deals to offer shows like the various Star Trek productions, its own shows, and The CW’s content to Netflix. Moonves said during the call that he was willing to supply content to multiple providers, since it guaranteed substantial revenue from online video even if one or more failed out.

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