Is it really so out of order for CBS Corp. president and CEO
Les Moonves to be predicting double-digit CPM price hikes for the network again
this year? Not when CBS is entering this upfront with a pretty powerful story
to tell advertisers.
On a total-viewer basis in primetime, CBS has 9 of the top
10 drama series on television, and 12 of the top 14 and 14 of the top 20. And
for those who believe the network has the highest median age viewer of the Big
Four broadcast networks, and that it deserves a rep as the old people's
network, its 18-49 ratings say otherwise. CBS has six of the top 10
highest-rated dramas among the 18-49 demo and 10 of the top 20.
CBS also has the top five most-watched sitcoms on television
with four of them also in the top five in the 18-49 demo, and seven in the top
Moonves has always touted CBS as a "broad"-cast
network and he and his team of veteran programmers and schedulers have refused
to go in the direction of a lot of other networks in targeting programming
specifically to younger audiences.
Moonves' philosophy has always been that if a network puts
on programming people want to watch, it will draw a total audience that
includes enough viewers to satisfy advertisers in all demos. That is the
definition of a broadcast network, he has said. And the ratings prove his
CBS' NCIS is the
most-watched scripted drama series on television, averaging 17.4 million
viewers per episode, but it also is the highest-rated among 18-49 year-old
viewers with a 3.3 rating this season. NCIS:
Los Angeles averages 14.2 million viewers, making it the second most-watched
TV drama, and it draws a 2.8 demo rating, fifth best among all broadcast TV
dramas. Person of Interest is the
third most-watched TV drama, averaging 12 million viewers and it draws a 2.6
18-49 rating, sixth best among TV dramas.
Here is the data for some other CBS dramas: The Mentalist, 11.9 million viewer
average (fourth best) and a 2.4 18-49 rating (tied for 10th); Criminal Minds, 11.2 million (fifth) and
a 2.9 (fourth); and CSI, 10.5 million
These dramas also pull in a large number of 25-54 year olds.
NCIS has a 4.7 rating in that demo,
the highest among TV dramas. NCIS: Los
Angeles has a 4.0 in that demo, Criminal
Minds a 3.8, Person of Interest a
3.7 and The Mentalist a 3.4. But
that's what a "broad"-cast network is supposed to do -- draw a broad-ranged
audience of all ages. CBS is not MTV, but neither is ABC or NBC, or even Fox.
Needless to say, CBS stacks up well with other broadcast
networks. ABC's freshman hit Once Upon a
Time, which averages 9.4 million viewers (12th), also averages a 3.0 18-49 rating, along with a higher 3.7 rating in the 25-54 demo, the same rating as CBS' Person
of Interest and higher than The
Mentalist, which are both perceived as older-skewing shows.
Ditto ABC's Grey's
Anatomy, which competes head-to-head with Person of Interest on Thursdays at 9. Grey's averages 8.4 million viewers, 3.4 million less than Person of Interest. It does win out in
the 18-49 demo, 3.0 to 2.6, but in the 25-54 demo, Grey's is only a tenth of a rating point less than POI, 3.6 to 3.7.
On the comedy side, the all-inclusive demo picture is
similar to dramas. CBS' The Big Bang
Theory is the most-watched sitcom on television with an average 13.8
million viewers per episode. It is first in the 18-49 demo category with a 4.5
rating, but also first in the 25-54 demo with a 5.8.
CBS' Two and a Half
Men draws the second-largest sitcom viewership with 13.2 million, averages
a 4.4 18-49 demo rating and a second-highest 5.5 in the 25-54 demo. CBS' Mike & Molly averages 10.4 million
viewers, a 3.3 18-49 rating and a 4.4 25-54 rating, while 2 Broke Girls averages 10.3 million viewers, a 3.8 18-49 rating and
a 4.7 25-54 rating.
When the goal of your buy is mass-reach numbers, you're obviously going to get a healthy portion of assorted demo groups. But that's what a broadcast
network program is supposed to do and that's what differentiates it from cable
networks, many of which are more finely targeted. If you want to target, rather
that mass reach, maybe broadcast is not where an advertiser should be.
But when upfront negotiations begin and the CBS sales folks
are holding out for higher CPMs while the other networks are doing deals at
lower price hikes, based on the ratings numbers there will be some
justification for CBS taking a hardline position. And when Les Moonves is out
there lobbying for double-digit increases, the numbers say maybe he's not just