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Countdown to the new TV season

We waited all summer and now it's almost here. On Monday, September 21, the new television season officially begins.

We've waited all summer and now it's almost here: on Monday, September 21, the new television season officially begins. "Officially" is when Nielsen says it begins, because in the ratings race, Nielsen is the scorekeeper. The TV networks will launch more than 40 new shows in the course of a few weeks. Fortunes and careers will be made and lost in that time. This is one of the only industries that launches so much new product all at once against its toughest competition. This doesn't happen with soft drinks, toothpaste, or detergent.

But that's also what makes show business so much fun! In May we announced our new shows and fall schedule. We developed marketing campaigns for each. We created on-air promotional spots, radio commercials, outdoor billboards, interactive ads, cable TV spots, and print ads. Beyond that, we even developed the world's first video-in-print ad!

Take a look at some of our promos for the new shows.

Year after year, the No. 1 place people find out about new TV shows is on television; seeing previews or promos, as we call them, is the best and most effective way. It's a sample that reaches the most people. That's good news for CBS, as we have had the biggest audiences this summer to sample our previews. And we have the Emmy Awards on the Sunday night right before the season starts. Nonetheless, as strong as on-air promotion is, we have to reach beyond our air to get to entertainment fans, so ads on radio, cable TV, outdoor billboards, bus sides, the Internet, and print all play a part.

Then there's the big intangible: word of mouth. "Buzz" is a critical element, and the recommendation of a trusted friend or a so-called "TV expert" can make or break a show. Word of mouth cannot be bought; it is created as a mixture of awareness, advertising, and conversation. It is certainly a very special brew. There's good buzz and there's bad buzz. Our philosophy is that the public is smart and they can smell a good show from a bad one. Show me a clip and I'll tell you, they say. So here we are inside the 20-yard line. It's the red zone for the TV networks, and our goal is to score with viewers.

At CBS we have four new shows, and we are returning our schedule of America's most watched programs. Now that it's back to school and after Labor Day, people's attention turns to the new season, so let the race begin!