CBS’s David Poltrack touts new golden age of broadcast TV

A scene from the CBS' show "Elementary."

Never mind those declines in viewers and key demographics this season, broadcast television is entering a “new golden era,” according to David Poltrack, chief research officer of CBS Corp.

Poltrack, who has been crunching numbers for CBS for decades, said new platforms such as digital streaming and video on demand are allowing the networks to increase their reach beyond the traditional television screen. The trick is getting accurate ratings for non-traditional viewers.


“The reason that younger adults view less TV than older adults is because they spend less time in the home and Nielsen measures viewing in the home,” Poltrack said.

Speaking at the UBS Media and Communications Conference, Poltrack said that sampling of new TV shows on television was off 4% this fall, compared with last fall. However, more people watched new shows via digital video recorders, video on demand or online. Younger viewers in particular are watching more online and on video on demand this season than they were last season.

Poltrack showed extensive research about how people are using video on demand, a platform that networks want to encourage viewers to embrace versus the DVR primarily because fast forwarding through commercials is typically not an option.

According to CBS research, almost half of the on-demand viewing of the network’s new drama “Elementary” took place more than one week after the show’s original air date. That is an important statistic given that networks want to be able to show the viability of VOD to advertisers as technology makes it easier to insert new ads into older shows.



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