CBS Focuses on Colbert, Younger-Skewing Shows: Let’s Bust Old Geezer Network Myth

Upfronts 2015: “Once again it’s out there, CBS, the old-timers’ network. Let’s bust that myth right now,” says Les Moonves

CBS Chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves kicked off the network’s annual upfront press breakfast Wednesday morning with what he called a “little bit of bragging.”

“We have more 18-49 shows in top 30 than ABC and NBC, so the idea of the old fogie network should be put away forever,” Moonves said.

Moonves was joined by entertainment chairman Nina Tassler and chief scheduler Kelly Kahl.

“We’ll get it out of the way,” Moonves said, “The most watched network – the 12th time in 13 years by a huge margin seven years in a row. No. 1 in 25-54 too.”

Moonves then proceeded to do some “myth busting,” as he put it.

“Once again it’s out there, CBS, the old-timers’ network. Let’s bust that myth right now. We came in second to NBC in 18-49 by 122,000 viewers,” said Moonves, adding, “that’s less than Paterson, New Jersey.”

Moonves also said that without the Super Bowl, CBS is easily No. 1., quickly adding, “Guess who has the Super Bowl next year?”

Not to offend older viewers, Kahl made a point to mention that the 25-54 demographic is just as important as 18-49.

“Billions of dollars are spent on 25-54,” Kahl said. “No matter who’s claiming to be No. 1 this week, we have the strongest schedule.”

Moonves then went on to dispel another myth: Network TV is bleeding.

To that effect, Moonves said “ABC was up, CW was up, CBS is up,” adding, “more people are watching CBS today than 10 years ago.”

Moonves also insisted that CBS does not have an “aging schedule.” The network has renewed five freshman shows including “The Odd Couple” and “Madam Secretary.”

The network is saying farewell to “CSI” which after 15 seasons will conclude with “an epic two-hour finale” on September 27, this according to Tassler.

Other highlights:

Getting Ready for Colbert
Tassler mentioned Colbert would be making an appearance at the afternoon presentation at Carnegie Hall. According to the network’s sales president, Jo Ann Ross, “The Late Show” host had already met with buyers and “is going to be advertiser-friendly, but it’s going to be in his own voice.”

“The Good Wife” and “Person of Interest”
“Person of Interest” will be held off for midseason. Tassler said CBS has not decided yet on an episode count for the show’s fifth season.

As for “The Good Wife,” Tessler would not say whether the show – which is slated for a fall return – would be its last. “We love having that show on our air and are very proud of it,” Tassler said.

When asked why CBS does not have any series with a black cast, like Fox’s “Empire” or ABC’s “Black-ish,” Tassler said that CBS is working toward that goal and that its waiting for the right show to come through the door.

Enormous “bench strength”
Kahl said one of the big priorities for the network is having what he called “bench strength.”

“In the case they don’t work, have a backup plan,” he said. “Quite frankly I don’t think anyone does that as well as we do.”

More young skewing shows
Again trying to make the point that CBS is no longer the “Geezer Network,” executives talked up its younger-skewing shows. “Supergirl” will get a Monday 8 p.m. schedule this fall. The show, executive produced by Greg Berlanti will be going up against Fox’s “Gotham.”