CBS CEO Told Steve Jobs That He Didn’t Know Anything About Television


Leslie Moonves, the man who said no to Steve Jobs.
Meet Leslie Moonves, the man who said no to Steve Jobs.

It’s been rumored for many months that Apple is working on a TV subscription service for delivering streaming video content. The Cupertino company hasn’t been able to make progress for quite some time due to licensing deals and revenue concerns from Hollywood studios.

A recent report reveals that CBS CEO Leslie Moonves said no to providing content to Apple about a year ago. Not only that, but Moonves told Steve Jobs that he didn’t know anything about the TV business. What Moonves really meant was that Apple is planning to disrupt the way the world consumes video content, and that scares CBS to death.

“I told Steve, ‘You know more than me about 99 percent of things but I know more about the television business,’ ” Moonves said, citing his concerns about providing content to a service that could disrupt CBS’ existing revenue streams. Moonves said Jobs, in characteristic fashion, strongly disagreed with his assessment.

Moonves calls Netflix and Hulu “friends,” but he decided to not accept Steve Jobs’ proposal. Netflix and Hulu have bent over backwards to networks like CBS, so it’s no surprise that Moonves would take sides with online distributors that don’t require a re-working of how the industry operates.

Unlike other companies, Apple refuses to let someone else set the agenda. If content providers like CBS don’t realize that and just go along for the ride, we could start seeing a lot of ‘old media’ companies fall by the wayside as Apple reinvents the TV and movie industry.

[via The Hollywood Reporter] [image courtesy of Bloomberg)

  • Andrew Shipman

    I doubt your assessment, but time will tell. 

  • FriarNurgle

    Innovate or lose our business to pirates. 

  • winski

    And just think, less than two years later, Les will not only be eating a truck-load of crow, but Begging Tim to take CBS content. Hopefully, Tim will will tell Les to pound sand…

  • Tony C

    Everyone is looking out for their best interests. CBS pays Production Companies for the rights to broadcast their programs and then turns around and secures commercial time for those programs. Apple wants to bundle those programs and create an iTunes browser for their viewers. How many times will these programs be marketed up to the end user? The Cable Industry must be very nervous about the possibilities.

  • Joaquin Jang

    This headline is misleading. Moonves just said he knew more, not that Steve knew nothing.

  • giriz

    How exactly do you ‘re-invent’ TV without content ?

  • Bob Forsberg

    Reminds me of a quote by Michael Dell who also believed Steve Jobs didn’t get it either…

  • E

    The title is more than misleading – it’s so untrue. The guy simply said he knew more. At least Steve knew something, not nothing. Lack of genuine journalism.

  • Anthony

    Misleading headline designed to get fanboys in a lather and frothy at the mouth.

  • zKINGb

    Didn’t Microsoft or someone tell Steve Jobs (and the rest of Apple) the same thing about the iPhone?? haha poor CBS

  • DJR

    I know some people have cut the cord and are just fine with torrenting whatever they want to watch, but whoever wants to really revolutionize TV will have to come up with a solution that (a) includes live events like sports and the Oscars and (b) doesn’t cost a hell of a lot more than cable/satellite do.

    Apple’s current offerings certainly haven’t achieved anything on either count. Buying TV episodes is way more expensive per minute of viewing available (to use a crude metric) than is subscribing to cable. Until the cost is competitive, ditching cable/satellite will only be plausible for people who watch very little TV, or people willing to flout copyright law.

  • Matthew

    Here is my take on the television/movie industries. They operate in a model where they were the overlords of technology for TV, what I mean is, when TV became common place in the home, they controlled not only what and when programming was aired on TV but, whom was on TV. 

    Fast forward from the late ’50s and it is a world they don’t understand. When any person can create content to share with the world via the internet without them; spells trouble for the industries.

    Think about the piracy issues, why are there piracy issues? In my opinion piracy issues exist due to the incompetence of the industries. Why is the cost of a Blu-Ray or DVD $20-$30? Because these industries invest in so much money anti-priacy technologies only to have them cracked within days or weeks, and the R&D costs are passed on to the consumer. I believe if Blu-Rays and DVDs were $5-$10 without DRM, people would buy them and not worry about the pirating of the content. It would not be worth their time!

    The SOPA bill in my opinion was done, help the poor (rich) companies from loosing money. While I agree piracy is wrong, it is not right to fundamentally change the internet to make a few industries happy, because they don’t have the competence to adjust their business model for present times.Think about half the crap on TV, it is not worth watching if someone gave it to you, let alone stealing the crap.

    I agree with DR, the subscription model will not work until the content is a reasonable price, but that will never happen as the industries charge for advertisements on their network. I think I should have to pay to remove advertisements from from television programming, not pay for the content and then have to set through 1/3 of a show’s airtime in advertisements.Of course I my be nuts and not know as much about the television business as the man pictured. However, I look at what iTunes has done for the music industry, people pay for the content they feel is worth their hard earned money. However, I’m beginning to notice that CDs (everyone know what those are?) are sometimes cheaper than their iTunes counter parts, maybe because there is not fees paid to Apple. Who knows.

    Then there is the eBook debacle…. All I’m going to say is how the heck can an eBook cost more than the digital copy it was most likely created from? I would buy eBooks, but not if they are more expensive than the physical copy.

  • Trisjen Harris

    Point is Apple wants to strong arm these tv companies and he said it isn’t going to happen.. This is not Apple’s way or no way!! Kick rocks Apple..

  • M Nerve

    Exactly. The headline is sensationalistic, misleading and inaccurate. Crappy journalism.

  • zviivz

    Common Apple! I’m ready to ditch the cables. What’s the point of paying $100 to Comcast every month and still have to watch those stupid advertisements??!! 

  • JBrickley

    There are frequent instances where I want to buy or rent content but I am prevented from purchasing it when I want or ever at all. Also the content must be convienient and that means digital in the cloud not imprinted on a disc.

    Media content owners do not realize they are bleeding money. They could be growing their profits well beyond where they are now. I want to buy or rent media for a reasonable fee.

    It is too easy to obtain high quality media for free.

  • David Marshall

    Moonves is the Paris Hilton of CBS executives, inheriting everything from Mel Karmazin.

  • Mitch McKee

    A grand majority of the music industry did the same thing when Apple was working on iTunes. I agree, time will tell.