Easily the best moment in the CBS Interactive NewFront on Tuesday evening came at the beginning of the presentation, when Les Moonves offered pre-taped advice to both CBSi president Jim Lanzone and the rest of the NewFront audience. After an acronym-filled lecture by Lanzone, Moonves scolded him sharply: "I just fell asleep in alphabet soup!" he said. "If you want the NewFronts to be anything like the upfronts, you've got to be more entertaining than that."
Moonves was scathing on the perceived hype around the digital events, too: "This is not the real upfront," he said to laughs from the audience. "These are dramatically different budgets." Criticism from above aside, Lanzone's presentation had some fun moments, notably a video of an overweight guy and a beautiful woman who fall in love, representing CBS' ostensible marriage of quantity and quality.
That said, CBSi had its work cut out for it: the division has a huge portfolio of assets that have little to do with each other—everything from review aggregator Metacritic to tech news site CNET to its big announcement of the evening: upcoming spinoff webisodes for CBS broadcast shows Person of Interest and Elementary.
Person of Interest: Animated has an anime-influenced style and looks a lot (from the sizzle reel shown at the event) like the animated sections from Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill Vol. 1. Elementary's spinoff, Baker Street Irregulars, will star the crew of homeless informants who work with Jonny Lee Miller's consulting detective in the parent show on CBS.
CNET will begin showing video series about gadgets, including Next Big Thing, which will tour the tech industry's big events, and CNET Appliances, which will feature video reviews of durable goods from fridges to coffee makers. CBSi property GameSpot, too, will have several series coming up; CNET's biggest announcement seemed to be that it will have a Spanish-language edition coming this fall.
CBSi made good use of its venue: the Hudson Theater hosted a special performance of the network's Live on Letterman franchise, with French band Phoenix playing a 45-minute set for buyers and fans allowed in to the music hall after the presentation was over. Buyers were wined and dined afterward at the nearby Bryant Park Grill.