Pasadena, Calif. -- CBS has had its way this past fall -- leading all networks in total viewers and key 18-49 viewers. But all that will probably change drastically starting in a few days, when the prime-time stars realign.
Nina Tassler, president of CBS Entertainment, acknowledged as much during the Television Critics Association meeting here -- citing the return of Fox's "American Idol," as well as that network's expected bonanza from its Super Bowl airing.
While all this is typically expected this time of year, CBS has a bit more to be concerned about. This past year, it moved its big "Big Bang Theory" sitcom to Thursday night, which has resulted in the network virtually winning the night for the entire fall.
But then Fox also decided to switch things up a bit -- extending the "American Idol" results show in its upcoming season to Thursday night, running directly opposite "Big Bang Theory."
What does CBS expect?
Tassler: "'Idol' is "Idol.' It's a force of nature. "Big Bang" has a very loyal audience. We don't know what is going to happen. We think we'll do OK. It's not us versus them; there is enough to go around."
For next year, CBS expects to pick up the same number of pilots this year as it did a year ago -- although it probably doesn't have much room. Tassler says many of its rookie shows this year have done well.
CBS has many shows that are viewed in DVR playback -- including big time-shifting numbers for "Hawaii Five-0." "The hope is that we will get compensated for all the people that are watching," she says.
Right now, networks tout the live program ratings plus seven days of DVR playback, so-called L7. But networks are paid from advertisers in C3 -- commercial ratings plus three days of DVR playback.
Tassler was also asked a few questions about Charlie Sheen of "Two and a Half Men," the highest-paid actor on network television. Sheen's travails are a worry to CBS.
"Charlie is a professional. He comes to work, and does his job extremely well. We have that very good relationship with Warner Bros. On a personal level -- we are concerned... He certainly knows how we feel," she added.