Les Moonves was the subject of an investigative piece by Ronan Farrow in The New Yorker. It unearthed multiple women accusing the CBS CEO of sexual harassment and alleged retaliation against those that resisted. CBS has launched an investigation, but Moonves remains in his current job for now. That could change though if the allegations are deemed credible.
Ryan Glasspiegal of The Big Lead took a look at what a potential exit from Moonves could mean for CBS’s play-by-play rights.
If Moonves does wind up being forced out at CBS, it naturally leads to questions about whether and to what extent new network leadership values their live sports packages. CBS and Turner have the NCAA Tournament through 2032 , so that’s not going anywhere. But, their SEC football and NFL packages are up a bit sooner, and there exists the very real possibility a Moonves successor may not value those as much as they’ll cost.
Under Moonves’s leadership, CBS inked a $55 million TV deal for the 3:30pm spotlight game in the SEC each week. That is a value for the package compared to college football deals that have been signed recently. According to Glasspiegal, CBS was already under the impression that they would have to pay a whole lot more to keep the package and they were expecting competition. If ESPN is eager to bring the entire SEC football television slate under its umbrella, the number could conceivably climb higher than a new CBS CEO was willing to go.
The NFL is another story. The CBS rights deal for pro football expires in 2022. CBS has already bowed out of NFL bidding once, letting the Thursday Night Football package go to Fox rather than d bid a higher amount. Moonves values the NFL, so it is hard to know what his exit would mean, but Glasspiegal points out that the NFL might be willing to make compromises to stay on CBS.
For his part, Moonves touted the NFL as still the best property on television last September. The league would also potentially be hesitant to leave CBS, as they love the audiences that broadcast networks can deliver.
Another interesting question may be what happens with CBS play-by-play and analyst talent. Surely they would still honor contracts, but someone like Jim Nantz would be interesting to keep an eye on considering his close relationship with Moonves.
It’s important to note that while multiple women have made accusations against Moonves, no proof has been made public as of yet and CBS is still conducting its investigation. Glasspiegal’s column is merely speculating on how a potential Moonves exit might effect the sports media landscape.