Syndication Bodes Well For 'Minds' Spinoff

Flagship show’s ratings are strong heading into midseason network launch of 'Suspect Behavior'

CBS’ upcoming Criminal Minds spinoff
has plenty going for it prior to its
midseason launch, and now you can
add another sign the franchise has room to
grow: the flagship’s ratings in syndication.

The spinoff, called Criminal Minds: Suspect
and starring Oscar-winner Forest
Whitaker and Janeane Garofalo, not only has
its network flagship show to grow off of, but
also CBS’ recent success in launching spinoffs
of procedurals like CSI and NCIS.

And now this season, reruns of the original
Criminal Minds, distributed by CBS Television
Distribution, is the top-rated off-net weekend
hour in syndication, averaging a 3.0 household
rating season to date. The show also is
syndication’s best among the key adult 25-54
demographic, leading the pack at a 1.5.

Criminal Minds began airing in broadcast
syndication during the weekend of Sept. 11-
12, and it has stayed at the top of the charts
ever since its premiere. The show, now in its
sixth season on CBS (Wednesdays, 9 p.m.
ET), has increased its rating 10% among adults 18-49 (4.5 vs. 4.1) this
season so far; total viewers are up 9% (16.26 million vs. 14.91 million).

CTD’s other new entry to weekend off-net hours, Numb3rs, also is faring
well, tying NBC Universal’s Law & Order: Criminal Intent for second place
in the genre. Both shows are averaging a 2.2 household rating season to
date. Among the key adult 25-54 demographic, Numb3rs is averaging a
second-place 1.1, edging out L&O: CI by a tenth of a ratings point.

Numb3rs hasn’t fared as well as Criminal Minds in primetime, with CBS
cancelling the show after last season, its sixth. Still, Numb3rs is turning in
a strong performance in syndication and is broadly sold internationally.

Both shows replaced CTD’s leading off-net hours CSI: Miami and CSI:
New York
in the late-fringe hours of 11:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. The two
shows’ contracts with TV stations ended in fall 2010, and both series went
exclusively to cable. CSI: New York airs on TNT in primetime and Spike in
daytime and access, while CSI: Miami now airs exclusively in daytime on
A&E. In fact, A&E has used both CSI: Miami and Criminal Minds, which
now airs on the network in primetime, to build its audience and launch
new original series, such as last summer’s The Glades and other shows.

Besides A&E, which acquired Minds for approximately
$650,000 an episode according
to industry sources, the show also airs on Ion,
which paid $175,000 per week to strip the
show beginning in fall 2009. Numb3rs began
airing on TNT in September 2009.

Even with the cable runs, audiences never
seem to tire of strong crime procedurals. Replacing
the two CSI spin-offs with two other
crime dramas has made the transition relatively
simple for TV stations. In the 2009 November
sweeps, CSI: New York averaged a 3.3 in syndication,
while CSI: Miami averaged a 2.2.

Criminal Minds and Numb3rs seamlessly
replaced CSI: New York and CSI: Miami on
stations’ weekend lineups,” says Joe DiSalvo,
president of sales, CBS Television Distribution.
“They have quickly turned into solid performers
as the No. 1 and No. 2 off-net hours in syndication,
proving that the viewers’ appetite for
quality procedurals is still strong. We couldn’t
be happier with their performances.”

In general, crime procedurals—whether
they are off-broadcast or off-cable—dominate
syndication’s weekend hours. NBC Universal’s
off-USA Monk is ranked third with a 2.1 average
rating, followed closely by TNT’s The Closer
(distributed by Warner Bros.) and Twentieth’s
Bones, tied for fourth at 2.0. Warner Bros.’
Without a Trace is ranked sixth with a 1.8.

The top-rated serialized show is Disney-ABC’s
Grey’s Anatomy, which shows up in a three-way
tie for seventh place with NBC Universal’s House
and Warner Bros.’ Cold Case at a 1.6. Twentieth’s
off-CBS The Unit and off-USA Burn Notice
are 10th and 11th at a 1.5 and 1.3, respectively.

Meanwhile, NBCU’s iconic Law & Order is
joining its spin-off, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, in broadcast syndication
next fall. The show has been sold in more than 80% of the country,
reports Sean O’Boyle, NBCU executive VP of syndication sales.

This marks the first time Law & Order, which NBC canceled last
May after 20 seasons, will air in broadcast syndication, although cable
networks have built their schedules around it and its spin-offs for years.
Repeats of Law & Order currently air on TNT.

Stations from the Fox, CBS, Cox, Gannett, Hearst and Sunbeam
groups have picked up L&O; Fox-owned stations acquired it in the
country’s top three markets.

“We’ve had success with the Law & Order franchise, both in syndication
and as an important building block for MyNet,” says Frank Cicha,
senior VP of programming for Fox Television Stations. “Acquiring ‘the
mothership’ for weekends is a natural extension of this.”

“We have a lot of momentum with this brand in the marketplace, and
I am excited for continued success with the flagship drama that started it
all,” says Dick Wolf, the show’s creator and executive producer.

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