Media Mavens: Barbara Bloom, CBS Entertainment
NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- As head of daytime programming at CBS, Barbara Bloom knows about soap operas. She even served as co-head writer for a time on the ABC daytime serial "Port Charles." So Ms. Bloom has come to wrangle with the sad truth that the venerable TV genre is facing challenges.
How does a network keep viewers tuning in to daytime programs when more families have two working parents, when women have found increasing power in the workplace, and as technology gives rise to a myriad of new entertainment options from reruns of favorite dramas on cable to a Twitter feed on a smartphone screen?
At CBS, Ms. Bloom has gradually been building a portfolio of shows that includes soaps, but also makes way for other formats that might have better success in capturing the big ratings the CBS Corp. flagship network demands of its offerings. CBS has modernized the classic game show "The Price Is Right," with new host Drew Carey; revived "Let's Make a Deal"; and, for the fall, given the go-ahead to a new mom-focused talk show, "The Talk," that includes hosts such as Sharon Osbourne, Leah Remini, Sara Gilbert and Holly Robinson Peete.
"It is a time of great change and great opportunity and more viewing choices," said Ms. Bloom, 49. "Staying at the forefront of making sure you're the choice that is taken is always a battle."
Building something new has necessitated tearing down something old. In the process of crafting the current lineup, CBS has over the past two seasons canceled two veteran soaps, "Guiding Light" and "As the World Turns." Making matters more complicated, the two shows have been produced for decades by a big CBS advertiser, Procter & Gamble.
While the decision to cancel the soaps was made at a more senior level than Ms. Bloom's, she is the one who has to navigate through its aftermath. "I've always thought the mandate is to make this the most competitive and engaging daypart as possible, and for a long time, we worked very closely with Procter & Gamble to try to keep the shows able to fulfill that mandate, and then it became clear that wasn't happening," she said.
Now, her focus for a time will likely be on "The Talk." Ms. Bloom is taking a long-term view of success. "Talk shows take time. They have to grow an audience and settle into a rhythm."
Ms. Bloom has experience on both the business and creative sides of daytime television. She joined ABC's daytime staff in January 1992 as director of advertising, after serving as the creative account director for the ABC Daytime account at Grey Entertainment. In 1993, she became ABC's program executive on "One Life to Live." By 1996, she was running ABC's West Coast daytime programming department, developing "Port Charles" and supervising creative aspects of the long-running "General Hospital." She joined CBS in 2003.
Ms. Bloom said she tries to keep her audience in mind, and then works to hire people and manage operations so that those viewers are attracted and engaged. "I always try to be really clear about what the universe is that I'm operating in," she said. "Am I empowering the people who are working on those shows? That's the way I work." And that's how she pushes forward during times that test TV executives. " We really are trying to do the best by both our audience and the company."