MediaFile

CBS pumped about more subdued upfront!

April 29, 2008

moonves.jpgHold on to your hats, it’s time for the upfronts!

Or maybe it’s “hold your horses” instead. We forgot for a moment that this year the annual advertising bonanza is supposed to be a bit more subdued.

Still, CBS chief executive Les Moonves sounded fairly pumped up about the presentation on May 14, telling analysts that he felt “truly excited about this year’s show because it clearly showcases the way we are refining our media assets and updating our programming to match the needs of today’s market.”

Advertising prices, he said during CBS’s earnings conference call, have been up in the double digits in the scatter market, leading him to forecast a “healthy upfront selling season.”

But before negotiations get into full swing, there is the issue of the upfront presentations themselves. What will they look like after the screenwriters’ strike cut short the development season and prompted the industry to rethink (sort of) how it does business?

Moonves said that many of the network’s new 2008-09 shows were made as presentations rather than pilots. Presentations, he said, could be shot in five or six days rather than 10 or 12 for pilots, cost 50 percent less, and contain only what would be the key scenes of the storyline.

“To say we’ve saved tens of millions of dollars in development costs would be an accurate statement,” he said.

It remains to be seen what impact the shortened development season will have on quality, although Moonves said a “compressed” season could pressure writers into doing better work.

By the sound of it, that’s an educated guess by Moonves, who said he’s seen just two of the new CBS shows, “One which I absolutely adore.”

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