Upfronts: Moonves on Digital; CBS Partners With Mark Burnett & AOL For Gold Rush

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Updated below to include CBS-AOL-Burnett deal: When I asked someone at CBS about the role digital might play in the upfront, the response suggested CBS didn’t have to make a big deal out of it because of all the moves the network has already made publicly. One recent example: the unveiling of broadband net innertube just before the upfront — in time to play a role without detracting from the primetime discussion.But some of the comments by Chairman Les Moonves at a press breakfast (no remote listening) today add another dimension: CBS wants to make a big deal out of digital — I can attest to that — but doesn’t want anyone to think it comes at the expense of the network’s real business: TV.
Even so, I’ve heard there some digital details coming today and will update. In the meantime…
Reuters: Moonves: “We’re looking at all the digital stuff as an extension of what we’re doing, not a detractor.” …
“Pointing at an old-fashioned cardboard display showing the fall lineup, he added: ‘Look, 95-plus percent of your money is going to come from that schedule.'”
— Virginia Heffernan, blogging the upfronts for nytimes.com: “But Les is trying to throw off the geekiness by minimizing the digital stuff, the new platforms. Everyone has learned from Jeff Zucker’s stultifying tech presentation at NBC: Don’t talk about digital. Stick to the shows, characters, stars. I bet at the CBS upfront later today it’ll be presented as even more of a footnote than it was yesterday at ABC.”
Update: Reality king Mark Burnett and AOL are teaming up with CBS to translate online game “Gold Rush” to TV. The gimmick: over $2 million in real gold is up for grabs. It’s not a TV show, though — it’s a “massive cross platform event,” as Burnett explains it. Instead of using a select few contestants anyone can “look for the gold” as clues show up via tv, radio, online, billboards, print. Once the clues are gathered, people team up to find the gold. The pitch: It’s a game changer a la the first Survivor. CBS will use it to promote the fall lineup; AOL.com will be promoted across CBS. The promotional value is estimated in the millions. The game will live on AOL.com.
— From Heffernan: “Jericho” will have a web-only “d” plotline. “This might or might not work, but at least it’s a clear concept.” She also labels “Gold Rush” a “clear idea.”
Update II: One more Moonves line from HR: “Wireless is useless if you’re hitless. Bad shows don’t get any better if you watch them on a 2-inch screen.”

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