CBS claims ad strategy is cooking

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CBS executives are touting their results in the November sweeps and say their advertising strategy is starting to look a lot better.

CBS was the only Big Four network to show improvement in every major ratings category for the sweeps and will win the month in both total viewers (13.9 million) and in households (9.0 rating/15 share). It is the third straight sweeps victory in total viewers for CBS.

The network will finish with a 4.5 rating in adults 18-49, up 19% from last November's results, but in third place behind both Fox and NBC. CBS benefited from a number of sweeps specials, including Michael Jackson's 30th anniversary concert and Monday's Carol Burnett highlight special.

"All of you know of our great success with specials this month, which we are very proud of, but the bedrock of our success is the strength of our core schedule and incredible depth of hit series," CBS President Les Moonves told reporters Wednesday.

Last May, CBS left the most advertising time available for the scatter market this season and that gamble had until recently looked pretty bad. Moonves says that strategy is now paying off.

"The scatter market is showing definite signs of strengthening," Moonves said. "One of the things that is helping us is the availabilities at CBS.ABC is busy with make-goods, NBC sold an awful lot in the up-front and Fox also has some make-goods. So we are finding the scatter market for us is looking up, we are now seeing signs of plus one, plus two over the upfront, which is what we had bet on last May." - Joe Schlosser