Monday, September 14, 2009

CBS: Best House in a Bad Neighborhood

With the start of the new Fall season, I came across this article and found it especially telling. With tonight's airing of The Jay Leno Show, NBC has taken to low cost programming to compete in a profit conscious world. And while all the networks have utilized reality programming to keep its costs low, CBS has also produced the most comedies and dramas, the staple of most television networks. Will CBS's strategy prove the right one or not. "CBS is especially exposed. It's the only network without a vast corporate sugar daddy to keep it afloat regardless of what it puts on the air. It also lacks a stable of basic cable networks and the dual revenue streams (advertising revenue and subscriber fees) that such outlets offer. "

To me that is its bigger problem. NBC has a slew of cable nets including MSNBC, Bravo, and others. ABC has Disney and of course ESPN, Fox has fx, Fox News Channel, and others. CBS spun off its Viacom properties and that was probably not a smart move. When their US Open coverage had two women semifinal matches airing at the same time, they could not spin off one channel to a basic cable outlet. They could simply bring cut ins. Those that may have cared for the other match could not watch it. Now perhaps that is not their bigger problem but it is one example of the synergy they are missing.

Still, CBS's reliance on a traditional programming strategy should remain a right one. More programming to repurpose, better ratings, and higher advertising revenue. As we revisit them, it will be fascinating to see if NBC made the best move or CBS wins the race.

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