CBS Invests in a Star Who Doesn't Watch TV

This story is the first in a five-part series.

Michael Cera has a mock-contemplative moment. i i

To prepare for his interview with NPR, Cera said he purchased this copy of J.D. Salinger's Franny and Zoey so that he would appear more intelligent. (He apparently thought he was going to be on TV, not radio.) Martha Little, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Martha Little, NPR
Michael Cera has a mock-contemplative moment.

To prepare for his interview with NPR, Cera said he purchased this copy of J.D. Salinger's Franny and Zoey so that he would appear more intelligent. (He apparently thought he was going to be on TV, not radio.)

Martha Little, NPR

Like other broadcasters, CBS is facing some tricky questions about what kind of programming will attract certain viewers, and how it should be distributed. For help with those questions, the Eye network has turned to a teenager.

Michael Cera's show for CBS will debut not via broadcast, but via Webcast. And his idea for improving the future of television turns the industry's revenue model on its ear.

Cera falls at the younger end of the exact demographic precious to media outlets: the 18-to-24-year-olds. You may know him as George-Michael Bluth from the acclaimed — but now canceled — Fox series Arrested Development.

Now Cera is charged with producing a TV series for CBS' Internet outlet, the Innertube. Cera, who says he doesn't even watch television anymore, convinced executives to let him edit his series on a college campus, rather than at the network's studios.

"We have a little more freedom, without them hanging over our shoulder," he says.

Cera may be counted on to entertain a certain demographic. When it comes to making money from that entertainment, he may or may not have the answer.

His thought: Get rid of the ads.

"If you sit down to the computer to watch something, you don't want to see a commercial," Cera says. "I would be furious if I sat down to watch something on YouTube and they showed me a commercial. I would be like, frantically angry."

So, if you want to make a successful broadcast crossover to the Internet, cut out the commercials. But then, how do you make any money? Stay tuned.

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