Last Year: Another year, another round of ratings dominance for the Tiffany network. First in viewers overall and a surprise first in the vaunted 18 to 49 demographic, the network sat pretty due to it’s strong veteran lineup of multi-camera sitcoms, venerable reality shows, and cop dramas…lots of cop dramas.
This Year: The last six months have unleashed a nasty truth for CBS: it’s show are aging as rapidly as its’ sterotypical audience is. As a result despite playing it relatively safe, it’s clear that CBS is starting to push towards developing new franchises to replace it’s large roster of 10+ year old series.
This is particularly true on the comedy front, where Monday night tentpole How I Met Your Mother is entering it’s ninth and final season and Thursday mainstay Two and a Half Men is entering it’s 11th season, rarified air for a live action comedy (only a handful of series have lasted longer). Even The Big Bang Theory is entering its’ seventh season, a place where comedies start to run out of steam. As a result, CBS has split out it’s comedy lineup, adding an extra hour of comedy to Thursday nights in order to find some new shows to make the new landmarks over the next few years.
Amongst the new shows we do see include Mom (9/23) a new Chuck Lorre vehicle starring Anna Faris as a single Mom, We Are Men (9/30) which is about a man whom is left at the altar and gets advice from some older divorced men in his new apartment The Millers (9/26) starring Will Arnett as a divorced reporter (noticing a trend?), and The Crazy Ones (9/26) a workplace vehicle that stars Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar. The new Thursday shows will be sandwiched between Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men, We are Men is stuck between CBS’s two Monday tentpoles and Mom gets the benefit of fellow Lorre show 2 Broke Girls as a lead in.
In terms of drama and reality, CBS stays the course. I’m used to seeing the inevitable plugs for 60 Minutes, Amazing Race,The Good Wife, and The Mentalist, during football games, and CBS will get another year out of those same plugs. Person of Interest (9/24) got shuffled off to Tuesdays, where it will be paired with both NCIS franchises. Survivor (9/18) keeps its 8p.m. Wednesday slot leading into Criminal Minds and CSI (both debut 9/25).
Fridays on CBS have much more of a graveyard feel than the other networks this year, as while the other networks (most notably NBC with its’ fantasy block and ABC with its Shark Tank/TGIF lite lineup) have tried to put niche programming on Friday, we see CBS’s weakest procedurals on this night with Hawaii Five-O and Blue Bloods, alongside glorified PR project and de-facto fill in show Undercover Boss at 8 on Fridays. CBS doesn’t particularly program Saturdays during the fall, a recurring trend we’ll find on all four major networks due to college football.
Tomorrow: We look into the FOX network and see what they did to try to stop the bleeding from their recent ratings skid.