Les Moonves Says ‘CSI: Cyber’ Feels Relevant in Wake of Sony Hack Attack

CBS CEO looks forward to finally owning “Late Show,” suggests NFL could be added to on demand–streaming subscription service CBS All Access

14th Annual AFI Awards - Red Carpet Les Moonves
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Touting the network’s success in drama franchises, CBS President and CEO Leslie Moonves predicted Tuesday “CSI: Cyber” will resonate with audiences and said the “CSI” spin-off will feel very current, particularly given the recent Sony hack.

“If we see what’s happening in the world … with Sony, and Home Depot, and all these other companies, it’s a pretty relevant subject matter,” Moonves said at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference. “It happens to be a very good show. Can we get another ‘CSI’ hit? That would be nice. We got another ‘NCIS’ hit. Once again, remember, each one of those shows have turned into billion-dollar profit-makers. So, it’s nice to know that. It’s nice to look at the future that way.”

The new series will debut Wednesday, March 4 at 10 p.m. and stars Patricia Arquette as the head of the Cyber Crime Division of the FBI.

Moonves also spoke glowingly about the upcoming changes in CBS late-night, as Stephen Colbert takes over for David Letterman on “Late Show,” and James Corden pulls up to Craig Ferguson‘s “The Late Late Show” desk. Not only is Colbert a much-needed viral hit, the departure of Letterman and his Worldwide Pants production company means that CBS will own the new versions of both evening talkers, something Moonves called “fairy significant.”

In the appearance, Moonves reflected on the accomplishments of most-watched broadcast network and its affiliates, including the launch of two new products that he considers to be “major” additions to its portfolio: digital subscription video-on-demand and live-streaming service CBS All Access and digital streaming news network CBSN.

“Considering they’re in their elementary stages, they’re both working remarkably well and the growth is obviously there,” Moonves said and noted that the service’s current $5.99/month price tag could change if NFL football became part of the package.

The CBS chief said All Access is ahead of internal subscriber projections and joked that he’ll reveal those exact numbers when Netflix makes public how many people watch “House of Cards.”

After praising Netflix’s programming, Moonves said: “I don’t look at it as a disrupter — 20 million people are still watching ‘NCIS’ on a Tuesday night.”

Moonves is looking forward to a potential Showtime over-the-top option next year, but didn’t disclose when or any other details.

In his discussion of broadcast programming, Moonves noted the increased value of dramas over comedies in the current state of television. Despite the fact that sitcom “The Big Bang Theory” is one of CBS’s biggest hits, Moonves pointed toward his fall schedule as evidence. The exec boasted that all four of his new dramas are working, but admitted new comedy “The McCarthys” is doing “so-so.”

In terms of ratings, Moonves predicted that by May’s upfront, C7 numbers will be “the new currency”; that said, he specified that 77 percent of his audience watches shows in their original time slot.

On Nielsen being a slow to adapt to a changing marketplace, Moonves joked: “We’re winning the game, so we’re not going to challenge the referee.”