Chasing One’s Tail

What’s the point of catching it?

CBS TV is doing something right, and while I’m not a fan of the ginormous compensation Les Moonves receives each year, that has to be acknowledged.

CBS has been #1 in total viewers for 10 of the past 11 years. Number one 25-54 and 18-49.

CBS is averaging 12 million viewers this season. ABC, FOX and NBC are all less than 8 million, so CBS dominates, and they do it with “old” procedural dramas like NCIS and CSI, even older news shows like 60 Minutes, and comedies like The Big Bang Theory.

They are not hip. They are not happening. They are not trying to impress the cultural cognoscenti. Old, familiar stars. Old, familiar hosts. Old, familiar formula.

We could learn a lesson from this. Our “old, familiar stars” are not liabilities on an expense sheet even though consolidation is treating them that way. They have followings — equity — established over years of solid performance that is still worth money to those who know its value.

As Moonves says, “The average age of a 60 Minutes viewer is 61 years old and we sell that very well; we make a lot of money on that show.” 

Yet this rating dominance is not matched in social media tracking or so-called engagement. Trendrr ranks CBS 5th in social media activity in prime time, excluding sports and special events, behind all three other major networks and the CW.

According to social conversation, NCIS is ranked #23.

CBS does not lead the pack on Twitter and Facebook.

And they’re not trying to.

Perhaps because Moonves understands there is zero correlation between social media chatter and ratings. “NCIS may not have social buzz, but it’s the most-watched. Call us least-sexy, that’s fine. Give me what’s measurable.”

Right now, Radio is caught up in this same game. GMs and PDs who once ranted against air talent spending too much time talking to listeners on the phones instead of concentrating on their content, now push for non-stop posting on Facebook and Twitter.

Precious resources poured into digital and social media when what makes the real money for Radio is our broadcast content.

The only thing that counts is what comes out of the speakers.

It’s not hip. It’s not happening. We’re not cool. But, like CBS, we should laugh all the way to the bank.