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CBS pulling in the viewers with the big bucks

October 4, 2010 | 12:48 pm


It's not enough to just have the most-watched shows on television. You need to make sure the right people are watching your shows too.

In the case of CBS, that means folks who are making more than $100,000 a year. The network is bragging that in the first week of the new television season it had the most upscale audience of all the broadcast networks among adults 25-54.. In a news release, CBS said it had 14 of the top 25 shows in that demographic making more than six figures. A CBS spokesman noted that its mission with the release was to get this information to the business and advertising media.

Boasting about how much your audience is worth is not new. NBC was the first network to tout upscale audiences to advertisers almost a decade ago, when its lineup featured "The West Wing," "ER," "Seinfeld" and "Friends." Just last week, ABC was promoting its performance with upscale viewers in the 18-49 demographic.

Although advertisers look at the median income of a network's viewers -- after all you need to have money to blow it on new types of toothpaste -- networks should be a little wary of how much they hype these statistics. It can sound a little exclusionary. It's an important message to get out to the people who spend money on television, but at the same time, if the networks seem focused solely on reaching people with six-figure salaries, it might make everyone who isn't fortunate enough to pull down that much dough feel left out of the party.

It can also backfire. NBC became so obsessed with reaching the upper crust that its shows started to lose their appeal to everyone else and its ratings crumbled. The slogan for CBS used to be "Welcome Home." Let's hope the new one isn't, "Restricted Parking In This Neighborhood."

-- Joe Flint

Photo: A scene from CBS' "The Big Bang Theory." Credit: Robert Voets / CBS