What makes YouTube’s Susan Wojcicki such a compelling name to lead CBS?

An article published by CNBC speculated about potential replacements for Les Moonves as the CEO of CBS. The article argued that the former CEO, who departed after sexual misconduct allegations, should be replaced by a woman. Agreed.

The article named a couple of potential replacements. Anne Sweeney, former co-Chair of Disney Media. Nancy Dubuc, Vice Media’s CEO. Indra Nooyi, who just left the top spot at Pepsi.

But the most compelling name mentioned is Susan Wojcicki, the head of YouTube.

Why would Wojcicki be about the best name possible for CBS? Ken Auletta’s fantastic book Frenemies: The Epic Disruption of the Ad Business (and Everything Else) described Moonves’ time at CBS. In Auletta’s words,

Broadcast television could offer advertisers vast audiences, but they could not offer targeted ads and could not tell advertisers who actually who actually watched their ads and bought their products.

Moonves and his network brethren also resist computerized programmatic advertising that automates the targeting of audiences. Brian Lesser, the North American CEO of GroupM, is not alone in predicting that “all media will be digital” – meaning the TV networks will be streamed over the Internet just as Netflix is – and “all TV will be bought and sold programmatically.” Moonves resists, believing that if he turned over ad sales to machines it would take the skill and timing of the salesman or saleswoman out of the equation, reducing CBS’s leverage.

CBS can’t survive on just retransmission fees and selling rights to Netflix and Amazon. If it wants to continue to survive in the ever-evolving media landscape, it’s going to have to figure out how to better target a shrinking television audience. Programmatic is just one step, but an obvious and easy one.

Even over-the-air television is becoming more and more like digital-first properties. And while Wojcicki is a long-shot to take over CBS – the article noted YouTube’s standalone valuation of $160B vs. CBS’s $21B – she’s the exact type of leadership the company needs.


Links in video:

  • CBS should hire a woman as its new CEO — and industry insiders have some suggestions — CNBC
  • As Leslie Moonves Negotiates His Exit from CBS, Six Women Raise New Assault and Harassment Claims — The New Yorker
  • Anne Sweeney Becomes A Director At Netflix — Deadline.com
  • Vice Media Names Nancy Dubuc CEO — Ad Age
  • Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo C.E.O. Who Pushed for Healthier Products, to Step Down — New York Times
  • Susan Wojcicki Has Transformed YouTube—But She Isn’t Done Yet — Fast Company
  • How to Break Up the Silicon Valley Boys’ Club — Vanity Fair
  • Google I/O 2013 – Susan Wojcicki – 7 Techmakers and a Microphone — YouTube
  • Why Traditional TV Is in Trouble — New York Times
  • Roku Launches a New Marketplace for TV Ad Inventory — Wall Street Journal
  • Comcast Seeks to Harness Trove of TV Data — Wall Street Journal
  • Morgan Stanley Pegs YouTube’s Valuation At $160 Billion, Above Disney, Comcast, And Netflix — Tubefilter

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