SBD/May 15, 2014/Media

CBS Exudes Confidence In Thursday NFL Package During Upfront Presentation

CBS' upfront featured the net's NFL studio and in-game analysts, led by Jim Nantz
CBS is "betting on football and five new dramas to lift its ratings this fall," and the "big bet is Thursday night football," according to Joe Flint of the L.A. TIMES. The net "shelled out about" $275M in a one-year deal for eight Thursday night NFL games in a move that "should boost CBS' audience and give it a strong platform to promote other nights." CBS Senior Exec VP/Primetime Kelly Kahl described the TNF acquisition as "rolling thunder" (L.A. TIMES, 5/15). Kahl said of CBS' programming strategy, "We combine stability with opportunity." In N.Y., Carter & Elliott write the stability was "evidenced by the lengthy list of series returning" from '13-14, which features 20 more "than any other broadcast network." The opportunity was "embodied by the addition" of TNF. CBS "always tries to play from strength, and nothing on television is stronger" than the NFL. So the addition of TNF is "a centerpiece of CBS’s new prime-time schedule" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/15). The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Guthrie & O'Connell wrote it is "hard to argue with CBS' confidence." The biggest takeaway is that CBS believes it is "better than cable." CBS gave the NFL "the same amount of fanfare as a midseason drama" (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 5/14). SportsBusiness Journal's John Ourand, who attended CBS' upfront presentation, wrote on his Twitter feed, "How important is Thursday night football to CBS? Its NFL talent takes the upfront stage before a retiring Letterman." The TNF package was "a big part" of CBS' presentation. When Phil Simms, James Brown, Bill Cowher, Deion Sanders and Tony Gonzalez joined Jim Nantz on stage, CBS President & CEO Les Moonves said, "I'd say that's a winning team." Moonves added, "Everyone wanted Thursday night football, but the NFL chose CBS" (TWITTER.com, 5/14).
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