CBS Boss Fires ‘Must-See TV’ Shot at First-Place NBC: ’90s Ad Slogan ‘Doesn’t Fit Anymore’

Les Moonves gets lots of laughs at Goldman Sachs Communicopia — but is he right?

Leslie Moonves and Bob Greenblatt’s next (imaginary, probably) brunch is going to be a bit awkward.

While pumping up his own product(s) Thursday at Goldman Sachs Communicopia, the CBS chief took a shot at his chief competitor.

“We’re a must-have,” Moonves said of his content in the cord-cutting era. “To coin the old phrase for NBC — which doesn’t fit anymore — we are ‘Must-See TV’ at CBS.”

He got a lot of laughs in the room from that off-the-cuff crack.

While Moonves may not necessarily be wrong about CBS’ stature, he’s not completely right about NBC’s. Sure, this isn’t the Peacock’s 1990’s heyday, but NBC has still finished first in Nielsen’s key 18-49 ratings demographic for the past four full years, a measurement method that averages out 52 weeks on a September-September basis. And when considering the traditional September-May TV season, NBC has won three of the past four in that advertiser-desired age-range, including 2016-17.

To its credit, CBS has won a ton of years in a row in terms of total viewers. Even so, NBC is currently the closest it’s been (-706,000) in that particular race since 2001-02. In other words, if NBC isn’t “must-see,” then perhaps nobody is.