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CBS chief Nina Tassler talks Colbert, football and Emmys

CBS chief Nina Tassler talks Colbert, football and Emmys
Nina Tassler, chairman of CBS Entertainment, during the TCA Summer Press Tour 2014. (Monty Brinton / CBS)

CBS will now be the night owl making some cash.

When CBS entertainment chief Nina Tassler appeared before reporters at the Television Critics Assn. press tour in Beverly Hills, she touted how the media company has positioned itself in the late night market now that it owns and produces both its late night shows: "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" and "The Late Late Show with James Corden."

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"For the first time, we will own and produce both of our late night shows," Tassler said, underscoring the attractive revenue stream it provides. "We're owners, not renters."

Tassler went on to stay that the "future looks bright" for its new late night tag-team. Colbert takes his seat behind the "Late Show" desk on Sept. 8.

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"You will get sort of the full effect of the magic that is Stephen," said Tassler, who predicts his signature style will be on full display with the upcoming election. "He is is a creative force.... He's smartest guy in the room, he has a great imagination. He really does enjoy performing."

Corden, meanwhile, took over "The Late Late Show" in March and has "blown past our expectations," Tassler said, noting his online impact via his various viral clips. In fact, showing its ardor for the digital universe, Corden will later this month shoot an entire episode of the show from YouTube Space LA.

While ratings are still important, generating clicks through viral clips is now an vital part of the late night agenda, Tassler said.

"It is a big part of how people watch late night," Tassler later told a small group of reporters, referencing the popularity of Corden's Justin Bieber and Tom Hanks bits. "The reality is, people have a lot of different ways to get their comedy and getting it snack-sized [form] through the day is a big part of it."

Tassler said sometimes the interest can drive viewers of the videos to watching the actual show. If nothing else, the clicks are at least a source of revenue. And while it might fall short of what a viewer watching the show on linear, or traditional, TV might pull in with advertisers, Tassler noted: "Money is money."

But late night wasn't the only thing on the brain during CBS' executive panel. Tassler also boasted that it was a "milestone year" because the network is the first to have two NFL packages, plus the Super Bowl, in the same year--demonstrating the force and profitability of football to a network's bottom line.

And much like last year, its crop of new shows will get the lead-in and promotion during Sunday and Thursday games, Tassler said.

Tassler also cried "boo, boo, boo, boo, boo" when asked about how she felt about CBS' Emmy showing.  CBS received 41 Emmy nominations when they were announced in July--behind only HBO and ABC. But the network was shut out in the best drama and comedy categories.

"You know, look, I'm bummed. What can I tell you? I think we have phenomenal performances, great writing, great directing."

CBS ended last season as the most-watched network with 11.22 million viewers and finished second among adults ages 18-49-- a 4% dip from the previous year. It enters the upcoming season with just five new series this fall, including the anticipated launch of "Supergirl," and will leave nearly all its returning shows in their current time slots.

Tassler, in a pivot from previous years, talked about the importance of multi-platform viewing. She used "Scorpion" as an example, noting that it adds roughly 6 million viewers when DVR, on-demand and streaming are tallied.

"The backdrop of the new season will once again be a TV business that continues to change at a very rapid pace, and that's fine by us," Tassler said.

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Tassler was vague about the revenue potential generated from non-linear platforms--instead insisting that as long as viewers are watching in some fashion, that's all that matters.

"We want to be wherever people want to watch -- doesn't matter if it's on TV, tablet or on a phone, as long as they're watching," she said.

I tweet about TV (and other things) here: @villarrealy

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