Here’s the reality: CBS stands a good chance of shedding its geezer image this season.
After all, the youngsters (adults 18 to 49, that is) love nonscripted programming — and CBS has plenty on tap. “Survivor” will launch for the first time in the fall, with a new installment in Africa.
Then there’s “The Amazing Race,” which has garnered some of CBS’ best reviews from critics in years. On the scripted front, the Eye is taking a chance with werewolf skein “Wolf Lake,” which stands a chance of developing a following with young eyeballs.
“We enter this season with tremendous optimism,” says CBS Television CEO Leslie Moonves. “We’ve broadened our audience profile, attracting more younger viewers.”
Media buyer Paul Schulman, president of Advanswers PHD’s New York office, believes CBS may wash away a few of its gray hairs.
“They certainly have the potential,” he says. “I do think CBS will get younger. And they definitely have a shot at being No. 1 (in households). CBS will have a very good year.”
Still, the Eye net has its work cut out this fall: It will launch eight new shows, including five dramas, two comedies and one reality skein.
Key scheduling moves include Wednesday night, where CBS has dropped its movie franchise. Instead, “Amazing Race” and “Wolf Lake” will face established series on ABC (including “The Drew Carey Show” and “NYPD Blue”) and NBC (“The West Wing” and “Law & Order”).
“If ‘Amazing Race’ works, it will certainly help the tune-in on ‘Wolf Lake,'” Schulman says.
The net could also pose a serious threat to the Peacock on Thursday, where frosh drama “The Agency” rounds out the night after returning hits “Survivor” and “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.”
“Their Thursday night is better than it ever was,” Schulman says. “‘The Agency’ could take a piece out of ‘ER.'”
Staking out Mondays
The Eye will also again attempt to open up another comedy block beyond Monday. Last year’s attempt on Wednesday failed as “Bette” quickly fizzled, so this time CBS will try to create yuks on Friday with “The Ellen Show” and “Danny.”
But Schulman doesn’t hold out much hope this time around either, noting, “Friday is not particularly strong. I don’t think 8 to 9 will work.”
CBS has made its first change on Sundays in five years, shuttling “Touched by an Angel” back to Saturday in order to launch Richard Dreyfuss’ “The Education of Max Bickford.”
With “Angel” in the mix, CBS has it easy on Saturday: NBC and ABC have given up and have scheduled three-hour theatrical movies on the night.
Of course, by scheduling shows like “Bickford,” “Angel” and “Citizen Baines,” CBS hasn’t completely chosen to eschew its older-skewing shows to go after the under-50 set.
“We have programming of all types for all viewers,” Moonves says. “We’ve lived up to our mantra of being broadcasters in the truest sense of the word.”