CBS is hoping that its two-week Olympic ratings bonanza will help”Late Show With David Letterman” boost “live” clearances in markets currently delaying the show.
The Eye web is expected to announce additional live carriage of the show (meaning directly out of local news) some time after the Olympics end Sunday.
CBS made “Late Show” part of its Olympics package, forcing affiliates that normally delay the hour to clear it live in order to carry the network’s Olympic wrap-up show.
Those CBS stations that haven’t been airing the show at all — such as the one in Letterman’s adopted “home office,” Sioux City, Iowa — have continued running their regular syndicated fare in the slot before switching to the net’s feed for the Pat O’Brien-fronted latenight show.
David Poltrack, CBS senior VP of research, said in a teleconference from Norway, “The overnight markets where Letterman is not normally cleared live are doing extraordinarily high numbers” with “Late Show” running in a live slot. “Letterman’s numbers are up … from where they normally are and they’re running well ahead of the shows they normally have in there,” he said.
Eye ups pressure
During the past two weeks, Poltrack and CBS affiliate relations president Anthony Malara have been keeping the squeeze on affils to clear Letterman live. Some affiliate general managers have been flown to Norway for the royal treatment, while others have received pressure at home.
At the recent CBS winter affiliates meeting, the network made it clear that it is aiming for full live clearance for Letterman by fall. “Late Show” is still carried live in less than 80% of the U.S., compared to 99% live clearance for “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.” ABC’s “Nightline” airs straight out of local news in just over 70% of the U.S.