CBS to Debut Stephen King Summer Thriller Amid Ratings Slippage

CBS, the most watched TV network, downplayed a recent ratings slide and yesterday announced four new summer programs, including a sci-fi series based on a Stephen King novel.

Among 18-to-49-year-old viewers, those most coveted by advertisers, the network is “off maybe a 10th of where we were exactly this time last year,” and remains No. 1 with 25-to-54 year-olds, entertainment chief Nina Tassler told reporters in Pasadena, California.

“I wouldn’t say there’s been much of a slippage,” she said of viewership. “We’re not a niche broadcaster. We want everybody.”

The network’s new summer programs include “Under the Dome,” a sci-fi thriller set in a Maine town that is suddenly covered by an impenetrable force field. It’s being produced by Stephen Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment. The others are a reality series featuring amateurs in baking competitions, and summer premieres of the reality game show “Big Brother” and “Unforgetable,” a police procedural show entering its second season.

Tassler said the network is in negotiations for an 11th season of the comedy “Two and a Half Men.”

The CBS Corp. (CBS) network, down 7.7 percent in total viewers since September, will probably recoup audience losses for the season with the Super Bowl and Grammy Awards next month. The broadcaster recently sold its final Super Bowl ad, Chief Executive Officer Leslie Moonves said at a Jan. 8 news conference. Some 30-second spots fetched $4 million, he said.

Major Broadcasters

With the exception of Comcast Corp.’s NBC, major broadcasters have lost viewers in the season that began in September. Through Jan. 6, News Corp.’s Fox is down 20 percent in the 18-to-49-year-old group. CBS is down 16 percent and Walt Disney Co.’s ABC is down 8 percent, according to Nielsen data. NBC is up 19 percent.

David Letterman, CBS’s late-night host, is facing a new challenge in the time period from ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel, who moved to 11:35 p.m. starting Jan. 8. Kimmel out-drew Letterman and NBC’s “Tonight Show with Jay Leno” on Jan. 10, according to Nielsen data supplied by the TV networks.

CBS is making shows available through streaming services from Netflix Inc. (NFLX), Amazon.com Inc. and Hulu.com. The company also has been adding episodes of current shows to video-on- demand services provided by Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC) and other pay-TV systems that include commercials and restrict the ability to fast-forward.

Super Bowl

“It’s a new world out there,” Tassler said. “We have a new reality. We all have to look at all things a little differently.”

Every division at New York-based CBS will work together to promote the Super Bowl telecast, Moonves said. The network will start its coverage of the game six days before it airs, he said.

The Super Bowl, the National Football League championship, is being held in New Orleans this year and will air on Feb. 3 at 6:30 p.m. New York time, according to CBS’s website. Last year’s Super Bowl win by the New York Giants was seen by a record 111.3 million viewers.

CBS, controlled by Chairman Sumner Redstone, gained 0.1 percent to $38.57 on Jan. 11 in New York. The stock climbed 40 percent in 2012, exceeding the 13 percent rise in the Standard and Poor’s 500 Index.

To contact the reporters on this story: Andy Fixmer in Los Angeles at afixmer@bloomberg.net; Christopher Palmeri in Los Angeles at cpalmeri1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

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