Network TV could eclipse cable, says CBS' Les Moonves

In ever-changing world of media, it seems broadcast television actually fares better than basic cable now, at least in terms of ratings and advertising revenue, CBS CEO Les Moonves told CNBC on Thursday.

"Advertising does depend on ratings and you know at broadcast television the ratings are definitely up. Our ratings are up across every single demographic starting the year," Moonves said on "Squawk on the Street."

"So this summer was a little bit slow. However, scatter picked up in the third quarter and it's picking up even further into the fourth quarter. So I think network television is, you know, broadcast may be doing better than basic cable at the moment."

Les Moonves, president and chief executive officer of CBS Corp.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Les Moonves, president and chief executive officer of CBS Corp.

On Wednesday, the media giant announced adjusted quarterly profit of 74 cents per share, 1 cent above estimates, with revenue slightly higher than forecasts. CBS enjoyed increased licensing revenue for its shows. A slew of hit programs, as well as the National Football League's Thursday night game, helped boost ad revenue.

Separately, Moonves said he recently met with Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen to discuss terms of their re-transmission agreement, which expires on Nov. 20.

"I think we're making progress. We'll see. They're currently, obviously, dark on some of the Time Warner Cable channels and, you know, we've said to them we don't want to be dark, but we want to be paid appropriately for our content," Moonves said. "And we've proven we're not afraid to fight, but I'd rather be a lover than a fighter."

However, Moonves added CBS might have a leg up on Time Warner, in terms of negotiating power, thanks to its partnership with the NFL.

"I'd hate to be in Denver, where Charlie lives, and not have the Broncos games on three days after Nov. 20," Moonves said. "The NFL, clearly, is very important. It's important to a lot of networks and obviously, with us having Thursday Night Football this year, plus our terrific package on Sunday, it's still a very important part of our programming."