Reviving CBS - The Leslie Moonves Way

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Case Details:

Case Code : BSTR232
Case Length : 18 Pages
Period : 1990-2006
Organization : CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox Broadcasting
Pub Date : 2006
Teaching Note : Available
Countries : US
Industry : Media and Broadcasting

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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CBS in Trouble

The early 1980s was a period of rapid growth of cable television in the US. Cable channels such as Home Box Office (HBO), started in the late 1970s, became a 24-hour channel in 1981, and Ted Turner's (Turner) Cable News Network (CNN), founded in 1980, started gaining popularity.

This had put an end to the monopoly of the three television networks. In 1985, News Corp., set up a fourth television network - FOX, increasing the competition further.

In 1985, Turner's CNN became very successful and he made an attempt to buy CBS. To block Turner's bid, CBS sought the help of Tisch, a multi-millionaire who owned Loews Corporation, which had interests in cigarettes, watches and hotels.

Backed by Paley, Tisch bought a 25 percent equity stake in CBS and assumed the posts of President and CEO in 1986. Paley was named the Chairman of CBS...

The Turnaround

Among the good things that happened under Tisch, one was the successful broadcast of the Winter Olympics in 1992. Others were the acquisition of David Letterman (of the famous comedy talk show Late Night with David Letterman) from NBC in 1993, and the appointment of Leslie Moonves (Moonves), the President of Warner Brother Television (WB) and successful television producer, as President of CBS Entertainment, in July 1995...

The Launch of 'Survivor'

By 1999, CBS was moving in the right direction. CBS had replaced some of the fading hits like The Nanny with shows such as Becker, and Queen of Hearts. During the same time, CBS shows such as Touched By An Angel (drama), and Everybody Loves Raymond (comedy), and CBS Sunday Movie were gaining popularity among adults. However, CBS still did not have even a single show for the young audience; the top three spots for this age-group were still occupied by NBC's ER (medical drama), Friends, and Frasier (sitcom). Moonves was aware of this, but wanted the transition to happen slowly after the 1995-96 debacle of its all-youth lineup...

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