Upfront 07

Moving Beyond Crime Dramas

Road to the Upfront: CBS

By Published on .

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Believe it or not, the TV upfront is right around the corner, and Advertising Age is here to help you keep track of the players in both broadcast and cable.
JoAnn Ross
JoAnn Ross Credit: J. Filo

The player: CBS

Key execs: Leslie Moonves, president-CEO, CBS Corp.; Nina Tassler, president-CBS Entertainment; JoAnn Ross, president-network ad sales

The ratings game: Thanks to the Super Bowl, the Eye network has been putting up a good fight against "Idol"-fueled Fox for the 18-to-49-year-old crown. As expected, "CSI" has suffered a bit since ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" moved to Thursdays.

What you'll hear: A stable schedule allows CBS to try higher concepts and new genres while maintaining its core audience. Development will broaden beyond crime dramas.

Digital game: CBS has hired Quincy Smith, president of CBS Interactive; former Google executive Patrick Keane, exec VP-chief marketing officer for CBS Interactive; and former Yahoo executive Michael Marquez, senior VP-strategy and corporate development for CBS Interactive. The network has made some aggressive moves in new media, most recently creating a mobile network on Verizon's V Cast and linking with Sprint TV to provide full-length, on-demand episodes of "Jericho" and "CBS Evening News With Katie Couric," among others. The network will sell advertising around that mobile product. CBS has linked with Yahoo on projects such as a "60 Minutes" site and with Google's YouTube for show promotion.

Last year's upfront: Ad sales declined 1%, according to CBS Corp., and the pressure was on to strike deals and grab some of ABC's money. Unlike ABC, CBS dropped demands early to be paid for "live-plus" viewers. The network ultimately wrote $2.4 billion.

The buyer's verdict: Harry Keeshan, exec VP-national broadcast at PHD, said CBS's schedule keeps its biggest shows -- "Survivor," "Without A Trace" and the "CSI" franchise -- in strong lineups, solidifying its status as a top drama destination. "Coming into next year, though, we'll certainly have to see what they're going to do with a comedy replacement for 'The King of Queens.'" Mr. Keeshan also applauded the network for bringing back "Shark." "That's your typical CBS story -- a program that may not be a ratings blockbuster but with strong enough appeal that they're sticking with it."
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