CBS Expects Its Sunday Football Will Remain on Top

Aug 8, 2006  •  Post A Comment

CBS expects that Sunday afternoon will remain the top-rated football telecast most weeks, despite the hoopla being generated by NBC’s new “Sunday Night Football” and “Monday Night Football” moving to ESPN.

Sean McManus, president of CBS Sports, said he doesn’t expect that flexible scheduling, which allows the league to change the Sunday night game late in the season to minimize non-contending teams’ appearances on national TV, will hurt CBS’s ratings.

He said all of the networks will be lobbying for the best games as the season nears its end. Contractually, CBS and Fox will be able to protect some games from moving to NBC, and the rules limit the number of times any team can appear on national TV. “The NFL is pretty fair to make sure nobody gets hurt,” he said.

Mr. McManus said CBS Sports is not changing its philosophy of how it covers football this season.

“We’re still covering the NFL the way we did eight years ago,” Mr. McManus said. “It’s worked pretty darn well for us.”

With the Super Bowl at the end of the season, CBS Sports has done some splurging on a new set and new graphics, said Tony Petitti, executive VP and executive VP, CBS Sports.

Ad sales are placing slightly ahead of last year, said Jo Ann Ross, president of ad sales for CBS. Prices are up by low-mid- to high-single-digit percentages.

While other parts of the ad market sagged during the upfront, “The sports market has stayed fairly strong,” she said. Last Friday, deals were closed worth $10 million from clients that spent just $2 million a year ago.

Cingular returns as sponsor of the halftime. Changes are expected in sponsors for pre-game and other features.

For the Super Bowl, the network is more than one-third sold, with beer, movie and auto companies already in the game, and negotiations going with cell phone and fast food companies.

“We don’t have the Olympics to deal with this year,” said John Bogusz, head of sports sales for CBS. With the game in Miami, sponsors are more enthusiastic about holding events tied to the game than they were last year, when the Super Bowl was in Detroit.