Les Moonves
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CBS may have its early-autumn Thursdays crammed with new action from the NFL, but it doesn’t sound like the network will let football tackle the comedies it has established on that night.

Over the past few seasons CBS has built a comedy beachhead on Thursday nights that has made it a ratings powerhouse on that evening thanks to “The Big Bang Theory” and “Two and a Half Men,” among other series. This season, CBS added “The Crazy Ones” and “The Millers.”  Now that the Eye has agreed to air a block of NFL football on Thursday evenings starting at the beginning of the TV season, what happens to the stuff that makes people laugh?

When asked if the two-hour comedy block CBS had built on Thursday nights would continue in the wake of the addition of the NFL games, CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves told Variety in an interview:  “I expect we will. It’s too early to plan our schedule now. This is another twist to it. What will happen? We’ll have to figure it out, but it’s nice to know we’re gong to have that big block of football on Thursday night to open that season.”

Moonves said the football deal would definitely change the way CBS launches its fall season. “Our Thursday night will launch around November 1. The rest of the schedule will launch as we normally would do it.”

The CBS chief said he expected the network to use the games to promote its entertainment lineup as well as other company projects. “The NFL offers us a great promotional platform and tightens up the schedule, and there are a number of benefits that accrue to having that there,” Moonves said.

For the networks, the opportunity to put more football on the air is hard turn down, Moonves said. With the recent Super Bowl having broken ratings records, viewers interest in the sport “is certainly not slowing down,” he said.

CBS’ deal with the NFL lasts just a year, with the league having the option to renew for one more term. Moonves said CBS had the chance to demonstrate its ability to be a good partner and, hopefully, continue to secure Thursday nights for a longer period of time. “We’re betting on ourselves,” he said.

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