CBS gearing up to tubthump its new anchor

Forget “Jericho” or the new season of “CSI.”

The hot property CBS is selling this summer is Katie Couric.

Eye is gearing up for an unprecedented push for its new anchor, including all the marketing might of the network, local affiliates, radio, billboards and the Internet.

The Big Sell began earlier this month with Bob Schieffer spots urging viewers, “Just watch.” Those soon will give way to Couric’s own promos for the “Evening News” and “60 Minutes.”

On the network, it’s going to be all Katie, all the time in all CBS dayparts, including Sunday NFL games and the U.S. Open.

So far, 180 of CBS’s nearly 200 affils have agreed to tubthump Couric in hopes the halo effect will carry over to their own local newscasts. Six were included in Couric’s media-excluded “listening tour” of the country.

“This is going to be the biggest affiliate push we’ve ever had,” says CBS marketing prexy George Schweitzer.

The last time CBS mobilized on this scale was before the merger with Viacom, when the net pulled out all the stops to launch Bryant Gumbel and Jane Clayson as hosts of “The Early Show.” That ayemcast was in third place then and stayed, well, in third place.

But many predict the Couric novelty will temporarily push CBS’ third-place “Evening News” to the top in September. The last time the “Evening News” spent a season at the top was 1988-89.

Says Schweitzer: “We are reaching out to viewers to convert the curious while convincing her following to follow her to CBS News.”

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