There was much that was familiar about CBS’ upfront presentation on Wednesday afternoon, including the location (New York’s Carnegie Hall), the pitch to advertisers (once again, it’s the most-watched network on TV in total viewers) and the mix of new shows (procedurals, spinoffs of popular franchises and broad-skewing comedies).
But there was also a huge difference this year: For the first time in two decades, the upfront did not include former CEO Leslie Moonves, who departed the company in September, after more than a dozen accusations of sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct.
The changes to the company’s executive team were addressed at the very beginning of the presentation by the network’s NFL announcers Jim Nantz and Tony Romo, who introduced the new lineup as if it were a football team.
That included a mention of Moonves’ replacement, Joseph Ianniello, whose acting CEO role was just extended through the end of the year, as CBS’ new “head coach,” to loud applause from the crowd of buyers and CBS affiliate members.
As Jo Ann Ross, CBS’ president and chief advertising revenue officer, told Adweek a week ago, Moonves’ lack of presence at the company and the upfront doesn’t change its mission.
Ross didn’t name check her former boss onstage, where she kept with the opening sports theme and appeared in costume, dressed up as a football quarterback with a bedazzled helmet, jersey and sparkly boots.