CBS upfront analysis: Cruising at full speed
With five solid new shows and a schedule stacked with hits
May 17, 2013
With a schedule that combines strong returning shows with new ones propped up by existing hits, CBS is already the favorite to win next season among adults 18-49.
Media buyers find little to quibble with in its fall schedule.
Even without the Super Bowl, which gave CBS a jolt on its way to this year’s 18-49 title, the network has the strongest, most consistent schedule on broadcast, and it has a couple of very promising new shows.
No surprise that CBS is poised to win the biggest year-to-year CPM increases in a year when upfront sales are expected to be tepid.
“CBS positions themselves as the network with strong and stable shows, which provide excellent support in surrounding and launching new hits,” says Monica Olivio Crane, director of national broadcast at Harmelin Media.
“The reaction of the ad community was positive.”
The network has four new sitcom for fall and is adding a second hour of comedy on Thursday, where it has long run dramas.
It has an excellent platform to launch those new shows with “The Big Bang Theory,” broadcast’s top scripted show in 18-49s, leading off the night.
The network seems very high on the new Robin Williams comedy “The Crazy Ones,” which will air at 9 on Thursday. But buyers seem more enthusiastic about another new comedy on the night, “The Millers,” which will air behind “Bang” at 8:30.
They also like CBS’s new approach to drama on Monday night at 10 p.m., where it will air a full season of the new “Hostages,” followed by a full season of the new “Intelligence” without any reruns in the timeslot.
Of course, no network is perfect, and CBS still relies on a lot of aging shows whose ratings are well down from their peak. And it had a terrible track record with new shows last year.
But right now on broadcast it’s as close to perfect as there is.
Best new show
The drama “Hostages” has a gripping trailer and two terrific stars, “United States of Tara’s” Toni Collette and “The Practice’s” Dylan McDermott, who clearly relishes the chance to play a villain.
Worst new show
“We Are Men,” about a foursome of male roommates, has great stars in Tony Shalhoub and Kal Penn. Too bad the jokes aren’t funny. Several buyers tell Media Life this looks like CBS’s weakest new program.
Best scheduling move
Putting another hour of comedy on Thursday night. It’s a bold move to shake up a night with lots of ad dollars at stake. It could be the smartest programming move of the season.
Most puzzling scheduling move
Moving “Hawaii Five-0” to Friday, essentially the kiss of death for any scripted show. It might have been a better fit on Sundays, which saw steep declines this season. Instead CBS elected to return the Sunday schedule intact.
Bubble show that should have survived
Not a bubble show per se but a pilot that was not ordered: “NCIS: Red,” the proposed third show in a franchise that continues to thrive. Tossing it onto Tuesday night with the other “NCIS” programs might have worked considering how eagerly people watch three “NCIS” reruns in a row on cable.
Returning show that should have been axed
“The Mentalist” isn’t doing much in terms of ratings. CBS probably could have found a new drama with a bigger upside for the 10 p.m. Sunday slot.
Overall fall schedule grade
With the best schedule and the best upfront presentation, CBS is in great shape for fall.
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