Upfronts 2017: Schedules Still Matter, Says CBS

Upfronts 2017: Complete Coverage

Late Show
band Jon Batiste and Stay Human started off CBS' 95-minute upfront presentation at Carnegie Hall, before ad sales chief Jo Ann Ross stepped out. She took shots at the digital competition, a theme in the 2017 upfronts, and talked up the new CBS Customized Data Solutions.

“Data plus eyeballs is a combination that works,” she said.

Late Show host Stephen Colbert then came on stage for a musical number, and some shots at President Donald Trump and the FCC. He said he and Trump have more in common than one might think. “We’re both TV hosts who spend most of our time talking about Donald Trump.”

Watch Trailers for ‘Star Trek: Discovery,’ ‘Young Sheldon’ and More

He then introduced CBS Chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves, who noted how Colbert had gained more than a million new viewers—and three lawyers.

Thanks to modern technology, Moonves said the network’s total audience is greater than it was in 2000.

“Great content is always king,” he said.  

Moonves saluted his news division, and the CBS This Morning crew, then introduced anchors Charlie Rose, Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell. He saluted 60 Minutes, which kicks off its 50th season, and will feature Oprah Winfrey among its news gatherers.

The show then shifted to sports, with Jim Nantz and Tony Romo stepping onstage, Romo talking about “pulling back the curtain” on other quarterbacks when he moves into the booth.

Related: CBS Reveals Schedule, Will Preview ‘Young Sheldon’ Sept. 25

Moonves told Giants fans it will be a lot better to see Romo in a CBS blazer than in a Cowboys jersey. “So, you’re welcome,” he said.

Marc DeBevoise, president and chief operating officer of CBS Interactive, then went to center stage to talk about the network’s digital business. He noted that CBS Interactive is the No. 7 digital company in the nation. He spoke of CBS All Access, CBSN and Showtime OTT as successful digital players.

DeBevoise said Star Trek: Discovery’s first season on CBS All Access will feature 15 episodes. Attendees then caught a two minute reel of the series, which debuts in the fall.

The Late Late Show host James Corden, in a Star Trek shirt, then popped out onstage. After some Star Trek jokes, he poked fun at TV networks bringing back old shows such as Will & Grace and American Idol. “This is like your own personal Groundhog Day,” he told the crowd.

Big Bang Theory star Jim Parsons came out to talk about the CBS schedule for fall, including Big Bang spinoff Young Sheldon. Attendees caught a sizzle reel for the show.

Other new shows shared with the crowd via video were dramas SWAT, Wisdom of the Crowd and SealTeam, and comedies 9JKL and Me, Myself & I.

Senior Executive VP of primetime Kelly Kahl then came out to share the fall schedule. Stressing the importance of a schedule, he said two-thirds of CBS viewing is live.

Michael Malone

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.