CBS is staying with proven, broad-based big TV franchises -- NCIS,
FBI, and CSI -- for the upcoming season, while moving to broader set viewer guarantees for advertisers.
Kelly Kahl, president of CBS Entertainment, speaking at the Television Critics Association's virtual press tour event recently, said the network’s ”prime-sales team has been working with our clients to look at sales metrics more holistically, with focus on viewers 18+ and 25+.”
Historically, CBS -- and other TV network groups -- have focused on making audience guarantees on a narrower range of viewers, primarily based on either 18-49 and/or 25-54 demographics.
Kahl added: “This year, half of our upfront sales were based on these broader, impression-based metrics, and we expect this will be a significant trend going forward.”
Media agency executives say other networks have made similar moves -- in part stemming from overall declining broadcast prime-time viewership.
Still, CBS commands the biggest overall numbers when it comes to total average viewership of prime-time shows -- especially for NCIS, FBI and CSI franchises, as well as its new show “The Equalizer."
They still garner audiences in the tens of millions on live, linear broadcast, dwarfing the vast majority of shows on all other platforms,” says Kahl.
With regard to the growing streaming and connected TV world, Kahl says: “We aim to not only serve the valuable and sizable linear CBS audience, but also the growing number of viewers that enjoy our content across our streaming platforms: Paramount+, the CBS app and Pluto TV.”
But to do this, he says, CBS will be evaluating programs and development differently -- especially when audiences taste change quickly.
“We want our shows to drive streaming too, because our CBS programming makes a substantial contribution to the success of Paramount+, Pluto and ultimately our company.
The network is a huge promotional driver for those streaming assets, as well.”
Nielsen's current measurement issues -- which resulted in some undercounting earlier this season for all TV due to the COVID-19 pandemic -- are changing how CBS makes its programming evaluations.
Kahl says CBS is now working with a variety of companies to deal with “increasingly complex audience measurement” issues.