In Depth

CBS Claims Bragging Rights at Upfront

CBS made sure that advertisers and media buyers knew it was the No. 1 network, and the only broadcaster that showed growth this television season, in its annual upfront presentation at Carnegie Hall.

The network also took pokes at both its broadcast rivals and its cable competitors.

For TVWeek's comprehensive coverage of the upfront presentations, visit the Upfront Navigator page.

“This is when we put the 'up' in upfront week,” said Leslie Moonves, CEO of CBS Corp.

Mr. Moonves said that as far as the economy goes, “The clouds are beginning to lift,” and that when it comes to driving sales, “Nothing makes as big an impact as broadcasting.”

Although some say the broadcast business model is broken, “There’s a difference between the business model being broke and not being able to find any hit shows for years,” Mr. Moonves added, alluding to NBC replacing scripted programming at 10 p.m. with a new Jay Leno show weeknights.

CBS President for Sales Jo Ann Ross declared network TV “the best investment for all those budgets,” comparing the “folding chairs at the Hammerstein Ballroom,” where Turner held its presentation earlier in the day, with the plush seats at Carnegie Hall.

Ms. Ross brought out Simon Baker, star of CBS’ hit “The Mentalist,” which will move to Thursday night at 10 p.m. next year to capitalize on both the void left by NBC and what is traditionally a night when advertisers spend big to reach consumers before the weekend.

“We know you’re a little concerned about price,” Mr. Baker told the buyers, most of whom say they’re looking to pay less for their advertising next year. But he assured them that the drinks were still free at the party after the upfront presentations.

The usually staid CBS punctuated its presentation with a thumping performance of “Mama Said Knock You Out” by LL Cool J, who is starring in “NCIS: Los Angeles,” which will air Tuesdays after the original “NCIS.”

Chris Neel, senior VP/director of broadcast for media buyer Initiative in Los Angeles, said CBS’ ratings performance, while impressive, didn’t assure it of a bigger share of client ad budgets.

“No. 1 against what,” he said, because every client has different needs and the biggest audience might not be the most efficient.

And while CBS maintained that up is still up in terms of ratings, “We aren’t seeing many ups in terms of budgets,” Mr. Neel said.