ViacomCBS has spoken. The conglom leaned into what it deemed its “beautiful ecosystem” of “premium content” in a upfronts presentation that opened with “Survivor” host Jeff Probst leading ViacomCBS stars on a faux “Celebrity Survivor Casting Special.”
Leaning in on the idea of synergy inside the ViacomCBS, this year’s presentation made no real distinction between channel brands (except for a brief roundup of the CBS schedule at the very end — with a voiceover rushing through the lineup).
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Unlike the CBS upfronts of old, when the network would highlight night-by-night strategy and programming initiatives in detail, the focus here was on hammering home the entire company’s library. ViacomCBS’ programming was promoted as one holistic slate, separated by genre: Dramas, comedies, reality/unscripted, kids and family, latenight/daytime, specials/events and sports/news.
“There’s something for everybody, giving our partners the largest possible audience,” Probst said.
The emphasis was on touting the reach of the entire company, which it says is “60 million monthly full-episode viewers.”
The “Celebrity Survivor Casting Special” bit ran about 20 minutes — nearly half the entire 45-minute presentation — and was broken up by faux advertisements (a gag that Fox employed with a more satirical edge earlier this week) promoting ViacomCBS’ “Eye Q” and “In-View Dashboard” advertising initiatives for media buyers.
In one brief mention of the various brands, and taking the “Mountain of Entertainment” launch campaign for Paramount Plus even further, a ViacomCBS map also included an “Isle of Partnership Possibilities.” That included “linear oasis” featuring CBS, a “Bakish Bay” where MTV and BET reside, and a “Sea of Transparency” where Nickelodeon and Comedy Central are. Then there was the “land of streams” with Pluto TV next to Paramount TV peak.
JoAnn Ross, the president and chief advertising revenue officer, ViacomCBS Domestic Advertising Sales, was the only exec on the program, and said she hoped next year’s upfront presentation would once again be in person.
“We hope we’ll all be face to face somewhere elegant eating and drinking and having a great time with you,” she said.
Later, “The Late Show” host Stephen Colbert did his part, sharing that “Viacom CBS is unleashing its biggest content slate ever. Yes, I said ‘unleashing’ and that’s not my word. That’s the company’s chosen word for what’s about to happen. They’re unleashing the content that will then maraud across the entertainment landscape like some ancient guardian beast awakened by an ill-conceived nuclear experiment.
“And the only way to appease the network Cthulhu is by selling off the branding rights, introducing the ‘Pineapple Fanta End of the World,’” he quipped. “We are number one, y’all, in viewership all across the important demos, diverse audiences and on social media. We are meme-ing all the TikToks and gram-tagging all the Venmos, hashtag on-fleek, fam! Facepalm, squad goals… You want to target left leaning tiny fedora-wearing ping pong enthusiasts with a pension for crime procedurals and strawberry lemonade popsicles but who have that thing where cilantro tastes like soap? We can do that.”
For specifics on CBS’ franchise-heavy fall lineup, including three different iterations of “FBI” (including newcomer “FBI: International”), three editions of “NCIS” (with the freshman “NCIS: Hawai’i” replacing the outgoing New Orleans series) and the return of the “CSI” universe, via “CSI: Vegas,” read on here.
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