Eye programmer cites 'energy' of concentrated series launches

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That was the sentiment expressed by CBS Entertainment chief Nina Tassler when pressed by journos Sunday about the Eye’s tradition of rolling out the bulk of its primetime lineup during the first formal week of the TV season.

“We like Premiere Week,” Tassler told journos during the Eye’s exec session at the Television Critics Assn. press tour at the BevHilton.

The other broadcast nets are stretching out their fall premieres across mid-September and October. (NBC has a few bowing in August on the heels of the Olympics.) But the Eye is largely focused on the week of Sept. 24.

“We like the excitement and energy that leads up to Premiere Week, and the marketing and promotional machine (over the summer) that leads up to fall,” she said.

As ever, Tassler touted the strength and stability of CBS’ programming lineup. She reeled off a number of impressive stats, including the fact that 80% of CBS’ returning shows have been sold into syndication, and that for the past three years a frosh CBS show has commanded big bucks in syndication even before the start of its soph year (“NCIS: LA,” “Hawaii 5-0″ and most recently “2 Broke Girls.”)

Although Fox’s Kevin Reilly in his exec sesh last week predicted that CBS could claim the crown for the coming season in the adults 18-49 demo, Tassler stopped short of chest-beating. “We’ll earn it before we claim it,” she said with a grin.

Tassler showed off her sense of humor by walking out on stage with a stuffed monkey, in a nod to the real simian from NBC’s comedy “Animal Practice” that grabbed so much attention during the Peacock’s TCA presentation.

Among other topics, Tassler said she was hopeful that the fate of “How I Met Your Mother” would be resolved soon, but she gave no hint as to whether she sees the laffer wrapping up for good after two more seasons. The Eye’s pact with “HIMYM” producer 20th Century Fox TV ends after the upcoming season, the show’s eighth. “We’re in early conversations and we’re pretty optimistic,” Tassler said.

Tassler acknowledged that CBS’ summer ratings have been “soft” compared to last year but there’s no plan to scale back on the volume of repeats the Eye runs in the off season. “It’s still a real profit center for the company,” she said, noting that CBS will have fresh scripted fare next summer with the second season of “Unforgettable.” The Poppy Montgomery drama was rescued from cancellation after the Eye decided to bring it back as a summer entry.

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