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TCA: CBS Entertainment Chief Kahl on How Strategy Has Changed in Streaming Age

Kelly Kahl during the CBS Entertainment executive panel at the TCA Summer Press Tour 2018 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, Aug. 5, 2018.
CBS Entertainment president Kelly Kahl (Image credit: Francis Specker/CBS)

Kelly Kahl, CBS Entertainment president, spoke at the network’s Television Critics Association Press Tour session, explaining how the network and its streaming siblings, Paramount Plus and Pluto TV, work together to garner the most viewership for their collective series. CBS’s mission remains “to entertain mass audiences,” said Kahl, and it now has help on the digital platforms, including the CBS app. 

“The network is a huge promotional driver for those streaming assets,” said Kahl. 

The fall season starts Sept. 20, with comedies The Neighborhood and Bob Hearts Abishola, then dramas NCIS and NCIS: Hawai'i. Sept. 21 is the premiere of FBI, then FBI: Most Wanted and the series premiere of FBI: International

Kahl said of the spinoffs, which include CSI: Vegas, “These are powerful franchises that check every single box for success in the current TV landscape.”

Kahl noted the popular CSI channel on Pluto. 

Comedy United States of Al, about an interpreter in Afghanistan who moves to the U.S. with a friend from the U.S. Marines, starts Oct. 7. Kahl said Chuck Lorre and his writers and producers are “working hard to find the appropriate tone” in light of recent events in that country, and added that the first episode is being rewritten and reshot. He promised “an entirely new episode.”

“I believe it will be a very powerful, moving episode of television,” he added. 

Kahl said CBS had “an absolutely tremendous upfront,” and mentioned Nielsen losing its seal of approval from the Media Rating Council. “We share the concerns that have been voiced by many in the industry the past few months,” he said.

CBS announced a country-themed New Year’s Eve special, shared that Usher will host competition series The Activist, revealed a pilot starring Justin Hartley, and a new season of Big Brother: Celebrity Edition. 

Before the season officially starts, CBS has the Emmy Awards, hosted by Cedric the Entertainer, star of The Neighborhood. That happens Sept. 19.  

“He’s gonna do a great job,” Kahl said.

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.