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TCA Press Tour: Even CBS is in ratings doldrums

The network's Entertainment president, Nina Tassler, says the No. 1 network's new reality dating show, '3,' is struggling 'to get traction' and faces NBC's Olympics coverage.

July 29, 2012|By Scott Collins, Los Angeles Times
  • Nina Tassler, president of CBS Entertainment.
Nina Tassler, president of CBS Entertainment. (Monty Brinton, CBS Entertainment )

Even the No. 1 network has been feeling the pain this summer.

CBS may be the most-watched broadcaster, but it's wallowed in the same doldrums afflicting everyone else as viewership has declined this year.

"This summer has been a little soft for everybody," CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler admitted Sunday at a Television Critics Assn. session in Beverly Hills.

The latest evidence? CBS' reality dating show "3" previewed to weak ratings last week. On Sunday night, "3" was set for the thankless job of officially premiering opposite the third night of NBC's Olympics coverage.

In a world filled with reality shows, "3" "has struggled to get traction," Tassler said. "It's a very cluttered, noisy environment."

She added, however, that summer remained profitable for the company overall and that the reality franchise "Big Brother"continued to perform well, even as a rival show from ABC, "The Glass House," failed to catch on. CBS filed a copyright infringement over "Glass House" that Tassler said was pending; the network's effort to keep the ABC show off the air failed after a judge declined to issue an injunction.

"The message that needs to be communicated is that we are very protective of our brands," Tassler said.

CBS, which has long enjoyed gags at the expense of rivals, was in typical form Sunday. Tassler entered clutching a stuffed monkey — a dig at NBC, which last week employed a real monkey as a surprise walk-on during a promotional session for its new comedy"Animal Practice."

Looking to the fall schedule — which includes the new Sherlock Holmes update "Elementary"as well as "Vegas"with Dennis Quaid — Tassler said the network had made a difficult decision in axing "CSI: Miami," the first of three shows in the lucrative forensics franchise to face the cutting block. The show starring David Caruso had delivered huge profits for CBS but was under pressure from falling ratings and increased costs.

"Saying goodbye to a'CSI'was a very big deal," Tassler said. "That show was extremely successful for us."

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