CBS Ratings: Audience Is Growing Across All Platforms, Execs Say – TCA

At the beginning of his traditional CBS session on TV ratings today at the TCA Summer Press Tour, CBS veteran chief research officer David Poltrack joked it was “the first time in 46 years” that he got to “play the big room”. That is, the main ballroom where most of the panels take place, rather than appearing in some side conference room with only enough seating space for die-hard ratings nerds.

Today, Poltrack was in the “big room” and joined by the younger Marc DeBevoise, senior vice president and general manager of CBS interactive. While representing different demographics themselves, the two executives offered the same message: Within 5 years, more sophisticated measurements will prove that the audience for CBS program content is growing across all platforms.

Even noting the difficulty involved in tracking viewing on multiple platforms, Poltrack cautioned that not having a single source for ratings (like Nielsen) might be a good thing, allowing advertisers more specific ways to target their audience.

The executives repeated the mantra of entertainment president Nina Tassler earlier in the day: TV consumption is all about content quality, not method of delivery.

Their other main point: Millennials are not viewing less TV, just viewing less of it on a TV screen at home. Despite the widespread fear that millennials are breaking the viewing mold in ways the TV business can’t understand, Poltrack said that less in-home TV viewing among millennials is a “lifestage” issue.

Once millennials settle down with homes of their own they will “purchase the biggest screen television they can afford, get a recliner and fuller experience broadcast television, and its advertising,” Poltrack said (specifically referring to sports).

While trumpeting CBS’ success in monetizing most viewing platforms, Poltrack said ‘we gotta get people off the DVR” because there is no possibility for monetization of those numbers after 7 days.

Poltrack provided an interesting DVR statistic, however: fewer people are fast-forwarding through the commercials on DVR than a few years ago. Why?

“Because they are too busy on their phones to fast-forward through the ads,” Poltrack said. “Two thirds of people (watching TV) are also using second screens (and) through that mobile device people can act on things they see in advertising to create a second screen experience we are just beginning to tap into”.

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