CBS' Tassler Keeps Faith With Pilot Season

Pasadena, Calif. -- CBS continues to be the model of consistency -- even when it comes to the much-maligned development/pilot process that some networks are abandoning.

“Pilot season isn’t perfect,” says Nina Tassler, president of CBS Entertainment, at the Television Critics Association meeting here. “It’s a very difficult time. But it’s exciting. There is a sense of urgency.”

Earlier this week, Fox said it was leaving the TV development season, which can lead to costly pilots in the spring, in a rush to present for the upfront marketplace to show to advertisers.

But Tassler says a number of TV shows -- given the short time constraints of the development season -- produced good creative results under the process, including “Big Bang Theory,” as well as a number of CBS dramas of recent seasons. “You can’t make broad generalizations about pilot season,” she says.

This isn’t to say that CBS doesn’t look at other approaches in terms of development and the launch period. Last summer’s successful “Under the Dome” did well. For the upcoming summer, another drama -- “Extant” -- will set out to pursue the same path. “Dome” will return in its original Monday 10 p.m. slot beginning June 30. “Extant,” starring Halle Berry, will debut two days later on July 2, and will air in the Wednesday 9 p.m. time period.

Going forward, Tassler says CBS is interested in more limited TV event series that may run at different times over the season. In 2015, it will air “The DoveKeepers” from Mark Burnett, a historical drama set in ancient Israel.

“It’s really about creating new economic models around a title,” says Tassler. “It is good for us to have more original programming. Creative drives the business. Business doesn’t drive the creative.”

TV networks continue to push for the inclusion of more viewing measurement of their TV shows -- up to 30 days after a TV episode’s initial broadcast on a network -- which advertisers should recognize, and pay for, in their media plans.

Tassler says she doesn’t know exactly where advertisers sit in this arena, but that measurement on all platforms continues to influence the success of the show.

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