This is one of the early stories from this year’s upfront season: Many advertisers appear ready to give up their fight against counting audiences who watch their commercials up to seven days after they air instead of the conventional three days. That soon could present CBS with a “9-digit [revenue] opportunity, and those are high-margin dollars,” COO Joseph Ianniello said this morning at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Telecom and Media Conference. The seven-day measurement period (also known as C7) “is now going to become the standard. … We have shows that millions and millions of people are watching on the fourth day and after” that don’t count in current ad sales. “It doesn’t make sense to me.” Indeed, the audience of delayed viewers is so big that it would be the equivalent of “a massive hit on cable networks.” While he wouldn’t identify specific categories of advertisers that are most interested in seven-day purchases, he noted that cable companies are developing the ability to change ads in VOD and “the technology is allowing us to be more nimble.” Ianniello’s rosy forecast for C7 sales contrasts with the view of Bernstein Research’s Todd Juenger, who says that CBS likely will see a “minuscule” benefit which he estimates will be in the tens of millions.
On other matters: CBS isn’t terribly concerned about Comcast’s effort to buy Time Warner Cable or AT&T’s agreement to acquire DirecTV. “Good content is going to find the consumer,” Ianniello says. “As long as the consumer has choice, we’ll be fine.” And he sees options growing online, including in subscription VOD. “Big companies are going to play in the space. … The more successful Netflix and Amazon are, others scratch their heads and say, ‘How can I [get in]?’” Most of CBS’ licensing deals are not exclusive, and the network is “seeding the competition so we have a fair marketplace.” Meanwhile, Ianniello is upbeat about Netflix’s recently announced effort to expand in Europe. “It’s great news.” CBS already has program licensing agreements with Netflix and “it’s much easier to replicate a deal after you’ve done several of them.”
The COO also says that while CBS would “like to be a global brand,” it doesn’t feel a burning need to buy another company. Even so, “there are great properties out there that we are always talking to.”