There’s little surprise the DVR has impacted how the Big Four networks put together their prime-time line-ups with people recording shows to watch later. And, yet there’s still an adherence to the old days when an 8 p.m. show was to elegantly lead into the next hour, which would flow into the hour after that – hopefully with one night even setting the table for the next. At least that’s the world where CBS operating.
“I do think more and more now in this multi-channel environment, you really have to just worry about doing what you do best, not that the competition is unimportant, but I don’t think we look at it the same way we used to even five or 10 years ago,” CBS’s chief of scheduling Kelly Kahl said in a recent interview on Los Angeles radio station KCRW.
So, as the interviewer Kim Masters suggested, there might be fewer attempts to place a strong show against a weak one on another network to stunt its growth. Even with DVRs, endless channels and frenzied lives weakening the likelihood a viewer will stay with a network throughout prime time, networks (at least CBS) don’t want to go with a schedule that’s completely disconnected hour by hour.
“We don’t expect people to start watching CBS at 8 and certainly be there at 11 o’clock when we’re done, but we’d like to think that you could be … and there’s a logic and a flow between the nights,” Kahl said on the show “The Business.”
CBS found last year that with Ashton Kutcher replacing Charlie Sheen on “Two and a Half Men,” the show’s audience helped CBS get a little younger and more female on Mondays. So, CBS has sought to keep that going this year with its comedy block by slotting in new show “Partners” between “How I Met Your Mother” and “2 Broke Girls.”
“Two and a Half Men” has been shifted to Thursdays to pair with another big hit, “Big Bang Theory,” in a move that some might say smacks of a vanishing era -- when networks would place their best shows on Thursdays to capitalize on pre-weekend ad dollars for movies and retailers. A sign that a Thursday emphasis may be changing is NBC placing a Brian Williams-fronted newsmagazine in the 10 p.m. hour. But Kahl said it’s still “absolutely” a big night financially.
As for cable, where networks are increasingly offering original programs at 10 p.m., Kahl said CBS looks at the competition there largely as a whole, rather than network by network. And he said that even as CBS has become more of a force in the 18-to-49 demo, it’s mighty happy to continue as a stalwart in the less-appreciated – by one group in particular – 25-to-54 segment.
“It's honestly a mistake that a lot of TV reporters write that 18-to-49 (is) … the sales demo,” he said. “It’s a sales demo, but 25-to-54 probably makes up 40% of the sales dollars in the country. Billions of dollars are put against 25-to-54, so to call 18-to-49 the be all, end all is a little bit misinformed.”