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CBS’ Les Moonves: We’re Looking At Live Musicals (Exclusive)

CBS has eyed several shows, but network CEO questions whether they’re good on the bottom line

CBS is thinking about joining the ranks of its broadcast rivals in producing live televised musicals, CEO Les Moonves said Tuesday.

Speaking on the sidelines of an investor event in New York, Moonves told TheWrap that the company has looked at a few shows and that he’s watched all the musicals put on by other networks, such as Fox’s “Grease: Live” in January.

But his reservations hinged on whether the productions are good business. Competitors’ musicals have been creatively successful, he said, but “financially, maybe not so much.”

Starting with NBC’s live broadcast of “The Sound of Music Live” starring Carrie Underwood in 2013, the trend of live musical events has spiraled outside NBC’s now-yearly installments to include Fox, with its production of “Grease: Live.”

Viewership for the shows has grown in recent years as they become more of a programming staple. “Grease” drew 12.2 million viewers the night it aired, according to Nielsen, handing Fox first place. That bested NBC’s latest live TV musical, “The Wiz Live” in December, which itself hit trumped 2014’s “Peter Pan.”

But none have been able to match the lure of NBC’s first foray into the format, “The Sound of Music,” which attracted 18.6 million.

NBC has set its sights on “Hairspray” for its musical this December.