Tassler Sees New Technology Driving Viewers to CBS Programming

Jan 18, 2006  •  Post A Comment

During her first Television Critics Association press tour since her network became the centerpiece of the new company CBS Corp., CBS President of Entertainment Nina Tassler said new platforms will help attract more viewers to CBS’s programming.

“Quite simply, we see all those as an opportunity to enhance marketing and distribution,” Ms. Tassler said during CBS’s executive session Wednesday at the TCA Winter Press Tour in Pasadena, Calif.

The focus for now will be to highlight existing CBS programming instead of creating new content for the new platforms, she said.

“Clearly what our intent is is to drive people back to that first-run broadcast,” she said.

The potential of the new potential platforms also remains to be seen, Ms. Tassler said.

“The truth is we don’t know where we’re headed,” she said. “We know we’re going for the ride. We embrace all the new media.”

In terms of using new platforms and their effects on CBS’s relationship with its affiliates, Ms. Tassler said local stations “have adopted a wait-and-see attitude.”

“They know we respect them,” Ms. Tassler said of the affiliates. “We have a joint vested interest in preserving the first run.”

After touting the new strength of Friday night due to debuting dramas “The Ghost Whisperer” and “Close to Home,” Ms. Tassler expressed disappointment over the network’s new challenges on Sunday, particularly with its TV movie franchise.

“Unfortunately it’s an incredibly competitive time period now,” she said. “We’re certainly looking at Sunday night with a tremendous amount of scrutiny.”

Concerning CBS’s recent foray into offering programming through video-on-demand service, Ms. Tassler said she doesn’t know what kind of revenue the experiment has garnered.

“Eventually this will create an additional revenue stream for us,” she said, adding, “it is ultimately only as effective as an audience’s ability to use the technology. With VOD you’ve got a huge segment of the population that’s interested in experimenting.”

When asked whether CBS and Showtime would trade programming now that both networks are part of the new CBS Corp., Ms. Tassler said it will be done only under certain conditions. “It’s got to be beneficial for both companies, so we’ll have to see,” she said.

CBS also made other development announcements Wednesday.

  • Production begins Jan. 22 on a remake of the classic television multiple personality disorder movie “Sybil,” which will star Academy Award winner Jessica Lange and Emmy Award winner Tammy Blanchard.

  • The network is looking for a host and contestants for its reality series “Gameshow Marathon,” which takes celebrities and has them compete in a series of classic game show formats. Formats used on “Beat the Clock” and “The Price is Right” have been secured to use as part of the series.

  • CBS is continuing to develop its summer telenovela project, which has several writers working on potential story lines, some of which may contain reality hybrid elements. CBS’s telenovela model may involve the network airing episodes twice a week.

  • The reality music competition “Rock Star” will be back for a second installment, but a band looking for a new lead singer has not yet been chosen to lead the series.

  • It is “unlikely” that “Amazing Race” will return to the family-of-four team model, Ms. Tassler said, noting that the show’s next installment will return to the traditional competition between two-person teams.