Amid ongoing battles for control of the company, CBS used its annual upfront showcase to underline its message that broadcast is still king of the media jungle, with the network unveiling a host of programming infused with some blasts from the past.
CBS chief executive Leslie Moonves took to the Carnegie Hall stage to a rapturous reception, and with a nod to the ongoing legal wranglings plus upcoming crunch board meetings, joked with the assorted crowd of media buyers: “How’s your week been?”
He went on to add: “Amid all this change, we have a very clear idea of who we are and where we’re going. CBS is a company that succeeds and believes in broadcast television.”
Moonves was succeeded on stage by Kerry Kahl, president of CBS Entertainment, who walked the crowd through the upcoming slate of programming on the network.
This includes the return of 1980's hit Magnum PI to the prime-time Monday night slot, as well as the highly anticipated return of 1990's classic Murphy Brown (see video) which will join established hit shows The Big Bang Theory, and Young Sheldon on the Thursday night slot.
Other new programming showcased at the event included comedic offerings The Neighborhood and Happy Together, as well as dramatic offerings FBI, God Friended Me and The Code.
In addition to the newly unveiled scripted show, CBS will attempt to woo both viewers and ad spend with the AFC championship game, the Super Bowl, the Final Four, as well as the Grammies in the coming year.
Speaking from the stage, Kahl quipped about the network’s rivalry with NBC, and its ongoing fortunes in the ratings wars. “Back in the fall, we knew we had a challenge in front of us, NBC had both the Super Bowl and 17 days of the Winter Olympics, two of the highest profile and most watched events in the world.
“Everyone and I mean everyone, assumed NBC would have an easy path to becoming America’s most-watched network for the first time in many years, and indeed once the Olympics was done NBC had what looked to be an insurmountable lead, but a funny thing happened on the way to the upfront.”
Lauding the network’s scripted content offerings, he detailed how it “chipped away” at this lead. “In fact, CBS won [the ratings battles] for the last 10 weeks in a row, and now here we are, with the season coming to a close, and when it’s all said and done, CBS will finish the season, umm, what number are we again? That’s right we’re number one," he joked.
Thom Sherman, senior vice president, CBS Entertainment, later took the stage to add: “We approached this year’s development with a very clear set of goals, as a result, we think our new shows will appeal to our loyal core audience, while expanding our reach to bring new viewers to the network.”