CBS unveils ‘Project LENO’

Network to aggressively market 10 p.m. series

CBS has partnered with affiliates to launch an aggressive 10 p.m. marketing plan — dubbed “Project LENO.”

That’s “LENO,” as in “Late prime Enhanced News Opportunity.”

It’s no secret both CBS and ABC are licking their lips at a chance to boost their 10 p.m. performance now that NBC has opted to strip “The Jay Leno Show” five nights a week in the slot.

Eye marketing execs have decided to go a step further and put together a 10 p.m. “tool kit” for stations to promote the hour, include sponsorable broadcast spots, Web banners and radio spots, as well as behind-the-scenes vignettes. Eye also is offering an affiliate swap spot to promote the 10 p.m. hour.

According to CBS marketing chief George Schweitzer, the net will use all its fall co-op money — the marketing partnership with stations, in which affils pay half and the network pays half — in order to promote 10 p.m. series.

“We know how important an hour that is not just to the networks but to the stations, as it leads into their late news,” Schweitzer said. “We’ve always been supportive of the 10-to-11 relationship with our stations, but it’s time to be even more aggressive here.”

Those millions of dollars of co-op ads will go toward 10 p.m. shows “CSI: Miami,” “The Good Wife,” “CSI: NY,” “The Mentalist” and “Numbers.” Eye has said the “Mentalist” move to the key Thursday 10 p.m. slot is one of the net’s top priorities next season.

Schweitzer said CBS affiliates chuckled at the news — and he gagged that it was just a strange coincidence that “Project LENO” shares the last name of NBC’s new 10 p.m. host.

“You know us marketing guys, we love acronyms,” he said. “The alphabet, after all, is in the public domain.”

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