CBS is doubling its comedy load next season to eight comedies across two nights: Monday and Thursday.
“We love comedy. We have a great history with comedy. We’re glad to have more comedy back on,” CBS SEVP Kelly Kahl said this morning during the network’s annual press breakfast to unveil its new schedule. “We had a terrific year in comedy…shows literally demanding to get on the air. Where we have our comedies, there is not a lot of comedy competition. We like comedy because there is not a lot of comedy out there. This is particularly the case when it comes to multi-cam.”
Though the network is doubling its comedy load, Kahl insisted it “increases stability” on the schedule.”Our comedies have had amazing consistency” while a lot of new dramas this season declared hits in October were not so much that by April, he said.
While jumping from four to eight comedies “is a little unconventional,” he acknowledged, the boost makes the schedule “more sales friendly and a little younger.” He called it “getting back to a better balance between drama and comedy.”
“This feels great for us,” Kahl said of the Monday slate. “We think it’s a classic CBS block and we can improve the time period on the night. “Big Bang Theory is the best comedy on television” while new comedies starring Matt LeBlanc and Kevin James “fit perfectly.” James stars in new Kevin Can Wait as a newly retired cop and LeBlanc in Man With A Plan as a contractor who starts spending more time with his kids when his wife goes back to work.
“Kevin James wanted to go back to television and all the networks wanted him,” CBS Entertainment president Glenn Geller said, noting James had anchored Monday for CBS (King of Queens ran on the network from the late 90’s through spring of ’07.) This Bruce Helford sitcom is “Kevin exactly the way you wan tot see him,” Geller assured TV critics at the breakfast.
Kahl crowned The Big Bang Theory, back for a 10th season, the practically perfect comedy.(It’s going to get a special shout-out at CBS’ Carnegie Hall Upfront presentation this afternoon). It will kick off Monday nights in the fall while CBS carries Thursday football, and move to anchor Thursday once football has wrapped. It’s the No. 1 demo C3 show “by a country mile,” Kahl boasted, noting the difference in ratings between it and No. 2 ranked Modern Family, on ABC “would be considered a hit show on any other network.”
“We are really fortunate to get to use it to launch not just one show, but a second” when it moves to Thursday, Kahl noted. There it will be lead-in for The Great Indoors, starring Joel McHale as a renowned adventure reporter for an outdoor magazine who becomes desk-bound when millennials take over. Geller called it “exactly the kind of humor you’d expect from McHale” and the “perfect companion for Big Bang.”
Kahl said the schedule-setting progress was pretty consistent this year, starting with initial conversations on the first day, wondering how it would get resolved on Day 2, a “revelation” on the third day “then there’s a twist – like a good show,” he joked.
CBS Corp chairman Les Moonves kicked things off by kicking competitors in the pants over some of the claims they’d made across the week about their ratings. “We are America’s most watched network for 13 of the past 14 years including the last eight. We will win this season,” he said, citing overall audience, in 18-49 and in 25-54.
“I know some have said ‘Oh gee, they had the Super Bowl.’ Yes, we did, and the Super Bowl helped. But without football we still win in every single demographic. It’s a fact, ladies and gentlemen,” he added, wryly. “There is a lot of information out there. This happens this time of the year; a lot of people are bragging about statistics they made up last week.”
The Upfronts are coming at a “good time for television,” Moonves enthused, noting “how strong advertising is.”
“We are playing a very strong hand going into the upfront marketplace, having scatter that strong.” And, he preached, reports on the lack of effect of digital advertising are “absolutely true.”
“We see the money coming back to network; the bloom is off the rose.”
However, Moonves acknowledged, “this has been one of the most difficult scheduling years ever, not because we did not have the programs. On the contrary. There are so many factors that weigh into our decision that did not exist before,” ticking off such factors, as digital, international marketplace, audience measurement, etc.