CBS is launching an unprecedented campaign to publicize its prime-time successes weeks in advance of the year's most important ad sales season, trying not to be dragged down by the economy and struggling rivals.
It includes a front-page ad Monday in The New York Times, a USA Today section front ad and commercials throughout CBS television, radio and the Internet.
The network is two weeks away from unveiling its fall schedule; NBC does so on Monday. Release of the broadcast schedules usually prompts a multi-billion dollar frenzy to lock up commercial space for next season, called the upfront.
All of the broadcasters are worried that the economy will continue to hurt ad sales, and that advertisers will migrate to the Internet or niche cable networks.
CBS has quietly had a strong season in prime-time, seeing its viewership jump 12 percent from the last, writers-strike affected season. CBS introduced the season's only real new hit, "The Mentalist," and has won more time slots than ABC, NBC and Fox combined.
"We had a good year and we're well positioned for next year," said George Schweitzer, president of CBS Marketing. "We don't want that message to get lost."
CBS hopes to reach beyond Madison Avenue to heads of companies that may advertise. It seems like a sound strategy, said Marc Berman, a TV analyst for Media Week Online.
"If they were struggling, I would say it's very desperate," Berman said. "They're the No. 1 network. Why not be aggressive?"
Schweitzer said CBS isn't worried that the network will be hurt by the struggles of other broadcasters.
"This is not a defensive position," he said. "This is an offensive position."