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What Does CBS's Future Look Like?

We are currently in Labor Day weekend, which signals that summer is wrapping up and fall is on its way. As September has begun and the new television season nears, I am writing five posts, one on each of the networks, looking at their futures. Second up is CBS. The big questions to answer here are: How will CBS do in the 2016-17 season? Which shows are likely to return for the 2017-18 season? How might the network do when its older shows come to an end?


Comedy has returned to Monday on CBS, and two hours of it, after a season where there was no comedy on Monday for five months. This is the first fall since before Scorpion that there has been two hours of comedy on Monday for CBS, which is strange considering how long the two hour block aired there before. However, two hours of comedy on Monday may not last for long. The first hour is all-new (after The Big Bang Theory returns to Thursday), and the second consists of 2 Broke Girls, which could very well end up canceled like Mike & Molly last year, and The Odd Couple, which earned weak ratings when it aired on Monday last spring. 2 Broke Girls should get good enough ratings to help out the night, and Scorpion should be fine at 10:00, but the rest of the night is more difficult to predict, in both ratings and renewal chances. Of the five Monday night shows, we have one certain renewal (Scorpion is entering its third full season), one show that should rate well but has difficult to predict renewal chances (could being produced by an outside studio make 2 Broke Girls this season's Mike & Molly?), and three shows where we really just don't know.

Tuesday night is NCIS night on CBS. The long-running hit drama has aired on Tuesdays at 8:00 for all of its 13 seasons. NCIS has already been renewed for season 15, and even if it hadn't, a renewal would be certain. The 9:00 hour of the night will host a non-NCIS spin-off for the first time since 2009, before NCIS: Los Angeles began. However, Bull should be fine, as a legal procedural isn't too far from a police procedural, and it stars former NCIS star Michael Weatherly. NCIS: New Olreans moves to 10:00 this season, and while it will likely have a large drop in ratings, like NCIS: Los Angeles did when it moved to Mondays to air after Scorpion, which got strong ratings, after 5 seasons, NCIS: New Orleans likely won't perform too poorly for the timeslot, as it has been a troubled timeslot. Additionally, NCIS: New Orleans is certain to be renewed, because it will be entering its third full season this fall.

The first two hours of the Wednesday line-up aren't at all anything new, as Survivor and Criminal Minds have aired on the night for a long time. Both shows should continue to deliver strong ratings, even as they grow older. Additionally, Survivor is sure to return, while Criminal Minds likely comes down to cast negotiations and if the cast becomes too expensive. Code Black isn't new to the 10:00 timeslot, as it aired there last fall. It was surprisingly renewed over Limitless last season. The renewal was surprising because of Code Black's fairly low ratings and partial backorder, but can be attributed to its stability. It appears that CBS is looking for stable ratings from Code Black in season two. The fact that it is keeping its timeslot, was stable in season one, and repeated well after Big Brother on Thursdays this summer make that a possibility, but cast changes could hurt the show instead of helping it, and the fact that it didn't air in the spring could hurt as well. I would expect another renewal if its season-to-season decline is below league average and it doesn't fall when it airs in the spring.

In March 2014, The Big Bang Theory was renewed for three seasons, guaranteeing it a spot in the 10 season club that hits like Friends and Cheers have made it into. That tenth season is finally happening this fall, and right now we don't know if it will be its last or not. It is rare for live-action sitcoms to go beyond ten seasons. M*A*S*H and Cheers ran for 11 seasons, and Two and a Half Men ran for 12, but these are some of few instances, with Friends only running for 10 seasons, and hits Seinfeld and How I Met Your Mother only running for 9. The Big Bang Theory's cast makes a lot of money, but the show can afford that, as, unlike Modern Family, it hasn't slipped too much in the ratings. The future of the show most likely depends on if the cast and crew want to continue. Meanwhile, fellow Chuck Lorre sitcom Mom airs at 9:00 on Thursdays, and is entering its forth season. Mom should stick around, because if CBS decides again to end a sitcom produced by an outside studio despite good ratings, it will most likely be 2 Broke Girls. Single-camera comedy Life in Pieces moves to a more difficult timeslot for its second season, which makes it difficult to say whether or not it will be renewed and how well it will perform. Life in Pieces is the first single-camera comedy in many years to get renewed on CBS, and it is unclear if they are seriously wanting to move in the single-camera direction or not. Also on Thursday night this fall are two new shows: comedy The Great Indoors, getting the best lead-in on the network, and medical drama Pure Genius, getting the troubled 10:00 timeslot. Good luck Jordan on predicting Thursday night's shows this season! Aside from Mom, they could be tricky.

Hawaii Five-0 and Blue Bloods have survived on Fridays by providing stable ratings, and I expect them to continue to do so this upcoming season. I don't see Blue Bloods getting canceled any time soon, likely ending when Tom Selleck no longer wants to continue. Hawaii Five-0 could get canceled in a season where most everything else does well and room is needed for new shows, but with Elementary airing Sundays at 10:00 and the possibility of comedy shrinking from its current four hours a week, this season is unlikely to be its last. MacGyver must start off the night this year, instead of The Amazing Race or Undercover Boss, as in recent years. It will be tricky for a new show.

With Madam Secretary moving up to the more difficult 9:00 hour, and low-rated Elementary at 10:00, where it will often end up airing later due to football, CBS seems to be in for low-rated Sundays. However, this year they may have a better line-up than last year. While last year CBS had both Madam Secretary and The Good Wife, this year they just have Madam Secretary, and with NCIS: Los Angeles filling the hole on the night, they are likely in for a better night. This timeslot is actually an upgrade for NCIS: LA, where it will get the benefit of football overrun in the fall. It will definitely do better than the league average decline (meaning that, using Spotted Ratings' Plus ratings, it will go up year-to-year), and I think that it could have a higher season average rating this year than last year, just using our regular old numbers. NCIS: Los Angeles should be able to return next season, as Hawaii Five-0 is likely to go before it, and Madam Secretary is entering its third full season (three of CBS's four fall 2014 dramas are still around!) so it's guaranteed a renewal. However, Elementary at 10:00 is looking at its potential final season. While all else is going against it, Elementary's syndication deal could help it get even more episodes. Meanwhile, 60 Minutes will continue to be 60 Minutes at 7:00, and we don't even need to really talk about it.

While they have solid performers in 2 Broke Girls, Mom, and possibly Life in Pieces, though that remains to be seen, CBS's comedy line-up is very much supported by The Big Bang Theory. As I mentioned, The Big Bang Theory is getting old, and when it ends, which I believe will be in 2019 at the latest, CBS needs a solution. Mondays have never been the same since the end of How I Met Your Mother, despite acceptable ratings from 2 Broke Girls and Mike & Molly, seeing how everything else there has failed, except for Mom, which was given assistance from The Big Bang Theory after being a bubble show in season 1. I fear that Thursdays will be the same after The Big Bang Theory, and potentially worse. Mom and Life in Pieces aren't as solid of performers as 2 Broke Girls and Mike & Molly were post-HIMYM, so if The Big Bang Theory's upcoming season is its last, as it very well could be, then a new hit or at least very solid performer is desperately needed to prevent Thursdays from crashing. And let's not forget about Mondays, where we have no idea what's going to happen this season. If The Big Bang Theory ends after 10 seasons, there's no way CBS cancels 2 Broke Girls, so they will have that, but will any of the other Monday night comedies prove to be worth keeping around?

In the drama department, CBS has NCIS, which will likely keep on going past the end of The Big Bang Theory. But, with 13 scripted dramatic hours this fall on CBS, versus 4 comedic hours consisting of 8 shows, NCIS doesn't help drama as much as The Big Bang Theory helps comedy. CBS also has some other shows that help out nights, NCIS: Los Angeles will likely improve Sundays this fall, Criminal Minds provides respectable ratings on Wednesdays, and Blue Bloods keeps Fridays looking alive, but they all are likely to end sooner. Sunday is a night where shows go to die on CBS, so at some point CBS will decide that another show can do a better job with that football overrun, or that another show is more worth that lead-in. Criminal Minds goes through intense contract negotiations every year it seems. And for how much longer will Tom Selleck want to continue doing Blue Bloods? However, these shows aren't ending immediately, and there are other shows out there to succeed them. Scorpion has provided solid ratings for the network, Bull seems like it should be able to work, expanding in a logical direction for CBS, there has got to be something special about Pure Genius for CBS to pick it up and put it on the fall schedule despite being produced by Universal, and the network having another medical drama on their fall schedule, one that has gotten weak ratings, and some see potential in Doubt, at least that's I took away from the response to its TCA panel. This could be a big season for CBS, or it could be one that leaves them wondering what exactly they have to do to get another Criminal Minds, Blue Bloods, or even maybe another NCIS.


Opposite of ABC, CBS's future in drama looks better than its future in comedy. However, this season's new shows can do a lot to change that. If these new comedies do well, then CBS's future in comedy looks great, with CBS being prepared for the post-TBBT days that are on their way. If these new dramas do poorly, then CBS will be wondering what new dramas they can create to attract viewers, as it will be the second season in a row where they have had significant trouble with that, and in the season before that, one of their "successes" is low-rated Madam Secretary. At least NCIS and Scorpion don't seem to be ending any time soon.

What do you think CBS's future looks like? Leave your thoughts in the comments!