CBS stake in AXS TV proves Live Programming is King

CBS said on February 14 it is trading programming and marketing for a minority stake in AXS TV, the television company owned by Mark Cuban, AEG, Ryan Seacrest Media and CAA.

While exact financial terms weren’t disclosed, insiders say the deal was inked Wednesday night and that it doesn’t require CBS to pay any cash for its equity stake in AXS.

Instead, CBS has agreed to promote AXS in yet-to-be determined ways for several years, plus provide access to live events, such as the Grammys, Tonys, Kennedy Center Honors and ACM Awards so that AXS can create “shoulder” programming around them. CBS might also let AXS show reruns of the live-entertainment events that it airs.

The deal calls for Cuban, the billionaire owner of Landmark Theatres, Magnolia Pictures and the Dallas Mavericks NBA team, to continue running AXS TV as its president and CEO.

CBS chief executive Les Moonves has been on record saying he is interested in buying cable channels, though he has also complained that there aren’t many available at what he would consider a fair price.

Cuban wouldn’t divulge any specific programming plans, but he said the ultimate goal is to get younger audiences to look away from the Internet and toward the TV set when they want the most up-to-date and relevant entertainment.

“Basically, to make it so they perceive everything online as being old and already over, but there in case you need to catch up, and TV as a connection to everything they are passionate about,” he said.

“This is an innovative way to use our tentpole programming to gain more ownership in the cable network business,” Moonves said.

Here’s the big problem with this theory: luring viewers AWAY from their mobile devices (that provide them with real-time news, scores, entertainment scoop, & rumblings) to the TV set (that doesn’t provide them with real-time anything) will be the equivalent to luring suburban residents from their SUV’s and spacy vehicles to a horse and wagon.

Ask CBS corporate cousin-in-law MTV how the process has fared them over the past 5-7 years (not well). While ‘Big Les’ still operates in the stone age when it comes to the multimedia stratosphere, the reality is that if he will not give up his limo service to work in exchange for a train ride on the 7th Ave local subway, then why on earth he feels today’s population will ditch their mobile technology for the dinosaur boob tube is beyond any of us.

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