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Moonves Talks Up CBS Sweeps Win

Dec 1, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Despite having two more nights of data to review, Viacom co-president and co-Chief Operating Officer Leslie Moonves wasn’t waiting to declare CBS the victor in the November sweeps. In a Nov. 30 conference call with reporters Mr. Moonves said for the first time since 1980, CBS, which has been derided for years as a “geezer network,” was poised to take the No. 1 spot in the adults 18 to 49 demographic.

“CBS is at the doorstep of a watershed moment,” Mr. Moonves said, noting that the network is virtually ensured a win in adults 18 to 49, total viewers and adults 25 to 54. He also said CBS was set to capture a Thursday night sweeps win in the adults 18 to 49 demo from perennial winner NBC.

“It is the first time CBS won Thursday night in November sweeps in adults 18 to 49 since ‘The Bill Cosby Show’ debuted on NBC,” he said.

Mr. Moonves also noted CBS performed thanks to its series and not by relying on sweeps programming stunts.

“We didn’t program specifically for sweeps,” he said. “The reason we won was because of our series. Most of what we had was our regular series programming.”

For the November 2004 sweeps through Nov. 30, CBS is in first place among adults 18 to 49 with a 4.5/12, according to Nielsen Media Research, followed by ABC (4.0/11), NBC (4.0/10), Fox (3.0/8), the WB (1.6/4), and UPN (1.5/4).

CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler, who was also on the call, responded to a question about the network’s Friday night drama “Joan of Arcadia,” and the show’s apparent slip in the ratings.

“We were a little disappointed,” she said of the show’s ratings performance at the start of the season, “But the creative direction is as strong as ever. While not huge strides [in the ratings], indeed we are headed in the right direction. Creatively we feel the cast, the writing and the production of the show will continue to strengthen.”

“Despite the reports, Friday is not the new Saturday,” Mr. Moonves added. “We’re putting numbers there. ‘Joan’ has been improving the last couple of weeks. We still think it is there for the taking.”

Mr. Moonves also commented on the recent decision of some ABC affiliates not to run a Veterans Day showing of the feature film “Saving Private Ryan.”

“I was very unhappy with that,” he said of the pre-emptions. “I was unhappy with the affiliates and the [Federal Communications Commission]. This was not a controversial movie.”

Mr. Moonves couldn’t escape questions about who might follow Dan Rather on the network’s flagship evening news program but opened up the possibility of more than a sole newscaster replacing Mr. Rather. “We are exploring every possibility now,” Mr. Moonves said. “By the way, it could be more than one person.”

He also refused to pick a finalist for the currently vacant “The Late Late Show” host seat. CBS is trying out a quartet of guest hosts for the permanent job-DL Hughley, Craig Ferguson, Damien Fahey and Michael Ian Black.

“I’ve liked all of them,” Mr. Moonves said. “I’ve enjoyed them all for different reasons. All four are still in contention. I’m sure we’ve got a good candidate here.”