When most people think about CBS, they likely conjure up the network's prime-time lineup, which includes massive crowd-pleasers such as "NCIS" and "The Big Bang Theory." But if CBS Corp., the company that owns the network, has its way, TV fans who tune into the broadcast outlet to hear about all things Super Bowl will also start to consider some of the company's less popular properties.
As disclosed in a recent meeting with reporters, CBS Corp. intends to hitch the wagon of several programs and assets to the grand event that is its Feb. 3 broadcast of Super Bowl XLVII. In the days leading up to the broadcast, CBS will link its "CBS Evening News," "The Talk" and "CBS This Morning" to the Super Bowl, no doubt in the hopes the shows gain exposure to the broad audience that will naturally be interested in the event. After the game and immediately post-game coverage end, CBS will run a new episode of the freshman Thursday-night drama "Elementary" and follow it with a special broadcast of "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson."
Not only will the company tie its CBS News and daytime shows to the Super Bowl, but it will also use the girdiron classic to draw attention to its CBS Sports Network cable outlet and a new sports-radio network it recently unveiled.
The Super Bowl broadcast "is probably the biggest day of the year for the entire corporation," said Leslie Moonves, president-CEO of CBS Corp., during the news conference.
Other big media concerns have used the Super Bowl to promote a wide array of other properties they own. NBC used its broadcast of Super Bowl XLVI in 2012 to spark attention for its NBC Sports Network, once known as the second-tier sports-cable outlet Versus. In 2009, NBC ran an ad for the Hulu video-streaming service it co-owns during the Super Bowl. (It's doubtful that we'll see a Hulu spot this year on CBS, which has never invested in the property.) In 2011, News Corp.'s Fox ran promos for shows like "Terra Nova" and "The X Factor" that had been announced but had yet to debut on the air -- as well as for The Daily, News Corp.'s now-defunct iPad newspaper.
For CBS Corp., however, the stakes may be somewhat higher. The company derives approximately 66% of its revenue from advertising, according to research from Nomura Securities analyst Michael Nathanson, and the bulk of those ad dollars come from its TV programs. And unlike Time Warner, NBC Universal, Viacom and News Corp., it lacks a major movie studio to spark revenue from international film sales or a phalanx of top-tier cable channels to help drive more funds from retransmission deals (though it owns Showtime and has been pushing hard in recent years to secure retrans funds for its CBS network). Broadening exposure of "The Talk" and "CBS This Morning," among others, could help the network grow the audience for such programs, and, over the long run, charge higher advertising prices.
The bulk of the tie-ins will have people like Charlie Rose from "CBS This Morning," Scott Pelley from "CBS Evening News" and Julie Chen from "The Talk" anchoring their programs at various points during the week leading up to Super Bowl XLVII from a CBS broadcast center dubbed "Jackson Square." At "The Talk," for example, rock band Train will serve as a house band for the daytime gab-fest -- not the usual sort of thing for the show.
CBS is also pushing some of its top properties toward the game. "Face the Nation," which in recent months has often trumped NBC's "Meet the Press" in terms of viewers between 25 and 54, will serve as a Super Bowl kickoff of sorts by broadcasting from New Orleans at 10:30 a.m. on Feb. 3.