CBS: Scheduling For StrengthNetwork makes room for five new series with time-period shifts for 'CSI,' 'The Good Wife' 5/23/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern
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STRATEGY: Protect new series by scheduling them out of established
hits and move existing shows with loyal audiences in a bid to win more
In recent years, CBS has had that high-class problem
come upfronts: Not enough shelf space on its
stable schedule to launch many new shows.
This fall, the network will add fi ve new series—three
dramas and two comedies—and schedule time-period
moves for the flagship CSI show and buzzy drama The
Good Wife to open up launch pads for the rookie entries.
The network is betting big on Person of Interest, a
thriller from J.J. Abrams that CBS execs say tested
better than any CBS drama pilot in the past 15 years.
CSI will move up a night to make room for the new
drama Thursdays at 9, where it will go up against established
hits Grey’s Anatomy, Bones and The Office on
the other nets. CBS execs say Person of Interest has
a wider appeal than the network’s more traditional
crime dramas, and they hope it will attract non-CBS
viewers to the network on Thursdays.
Despite its schedule’s relative stability, CBS execs
say they did see room for improvement on Mondays
and Thursdays at 8:30, where freshman comedies Mad
Love and $#*! My Dad Says were duds this year.
“Comedy was a priority,” CBS Entertainment President
Nina Tassler said of this year’s pilots. “We really
wanted to develop strong signature CBS comedies,
and we did.” In the fall the network will put its two
new laffers, 2 Broke Girls and How to Be a Gentleman,
in the open time period, leading out of How I Met Your
Mother and The Big Bang Theory, respectively.
The detective drama Unforgettable will get a similarly
strong launch pad in NCIS: Los Angeles when it
debuts Tuesdays at 10. The Good Wife, which has occupied
that time slot for the past two years, will move
to Sundays at 9. “We’re excited to bring our most prestigious
show to our most prestigious night,” Tassler
said at the CBS upfront presentation.
But the legal drama will have its work cut out for
it on the competitive night, where it will go head-tohead
with the female-friendly Desperate Housewives
and massive ratings of Sunday Night Football. Tassler
says a change in marketing strategy will accompany
the time period change to help The Good Wife build an
audience on the new night.
Only A Gifted Man, a new medical drama from writer
Susannah Grant, will be expected to be a self-starter,
slated on Fridays at 8. And this fall, CBS will expand
its commitment to scripted programming from Fridays
to Saturdays—a night that is void of scripted
originals on the other broadcast networks.
Again faced with that enviable problem of too many
shows to schedule, CBS will put Rules of Engagement
on to anchor the night, leading into encores of its
comedies and crime dramas. Tassler saw scheduling
Saturdays as an opportunity to get a loyal audience on
a mostly abandoned night. “Wherever you put Rules
on the schedule, people will go,” she said.
Also lending stability to CBS’ schedule is the fact
that its top-rated sitcom, Two and a Half Men, will be
back in the fall with new cast member Ashton Kutcher,
though the creative details about his character remain
unannounced for now. With the dramatic exit
of its former star Charlie Sheen, there’s sure to be an
initial curiosity tune-in; the key will be if Kutcher can
keep the show strong through an entire season.
Echoing what many network presidents said on upfront
stages last week, Tassler is saving some of CBS’
strong series for midseason. Robert De Niro’s rookie
cop drama The 2-2 will be held for winter, and reality
hit Undercover Boss will be back for a third season at
that time as well.