CBS gets cocky: 'We are the center of the universe'

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Jimmy Kimmel joked yesterday at ABC’s upfront presentation to advertisers that CBS executives are “smug motherf–kers.”

This morning, talking to reporters at CBS’ fall schedule unveiling, CBS Corp. CEO Les Moonves owned the label.

“I was very flattered when Jimmy Kimmel called us ‘smug motherf–kers,” Moonves said. “You don’t call somebody ‘smug motherf–kers’ unless they’re smug and they’re winning, so we’ll try to be a little less smug and a little more gracious, but that’s hard for me, as you know. But anyway, Jimmy, ABC is still going to finish fourth in 18-49 … we had a phenomenal year in terms of ratings.”

CBS is tracking to win the season outright among total viewers and adults 18-49, with a total audience margin-of-victory of more than 4 million viewers versus the network’s closest competitor. “I don’t care if you bow to the gods of the demographics, that’s a huge victory,” Moonves said. “That’s the largest victory in viewers in 24 years, 24 years.”

Moonves pointed out that the network’s top comedy, Thursday hit The Big Bang Theory, is not only the biggest comedy on broadcast television (averaging 15.9 million viewers including 7 days of DVR), but its repeats make it the most popular comedy on cable. “We are the center of the universe,” Moonves said. “This is where the shows start, then they go out to the world. We’re getting paid in so many different ways than we did before.”

Added CBS scheduling chief Kelly Kahl: “I don’t think we’re smug at all, I think we’re hungry.” But then Kahl compared the ratings of Big Bang to NBC rival Parks and Recreation, and noted, “The difference between the two [shows] alone would be a top 10 show,” drawing laughs. “I’m not quite sure people understand how big Big Bang is — it’s a full rating point ahead of The Voice and Modern Family.”

Here’s how the 2012-13 broadcast season stacks up in the ratings with just a couple weeks left. Though CBS was boosted by the Super Bowl this year, Moonves emphasized that the network would still be No. 1 among adults 18-49 even if the Super Bowl is removed from their average:

Season to Date Adults 18-49 vs. Last Year
Net… Season to Date 2012-13
CBS…2.9…Down 3%
Fox…2.5…Down 22%
NBC…2.4…Down 4%
ABC…2.2…Down 8%
 
Season to Date Total Viewers vs. Last Year
Net…Season to Date 2012-13
CBS…11.947 million…Up 2%
ABC…7.804 million…Down 6%
Fox…7.075 million…Down 20%
NBC…6.978 million…Down 6%
 
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