Thursday, May 8, 2014

2014 Upfront Questions, CBS


Part two of the upfront preview is the SCHEDULE-centric portion, examining the big-picture scheduling questions each network faces on each night in the final week before its upfront. I've always favored laying out the possibilities rather than creating an actual mock schedule; this seems to set up better to review the schedule next week without making it all about how my own prediction/recommendation did. But you can probably get some sense of which way I'm leaning.

Last week's Power Rankings were the SHOW-centric portion, in which I drilled more into the merits of individual shows: CBS True Power Rankings

Other Upfront Questions: NBC | Fox | ABC | CBS | CW




MONDAY

2013-14 Schedule
8:00 - How I Met Your Mother | 2 Broke Girls
8:30 - We Are Men | 2 Broke Girls | Friends with Better Lives
9:00 - 2 Broke Girls | Mike and Molly
9:30 - Mom
10:00 - Hostages | Intelligence

Question: How much veteran help does a post-How I Met Your Mother Monday need?

It's a two-dimensional question. The first is whether The Big Bang Theory, reportedly returning to Monday at least during Thursday Night Football's run, will stay on the night afterwards. It might be workable if CBS had much more of a framework on Thursday. But with only Two and a Half Men (which might itself be ending soon) and shaky The Millers on Thursday, a permanent Big Bang move to Monday hurts that night more than it helps Monday. It also means other shows probably get shifted back and forth between the nights. Not a very CBS way to operate, and those other shows likely would not be as resilient to the jerk-around as would Big Bang.

The more interesting issue is whether CBS moves a veteran drama to the 10/9c hour. Based on how Hostages and Intelligence fared this season, a veteran drama (specifically, a veteran drama named NCIS: Los Angeles) is absolutely the right play here. While such a move most likely will happen, it's not necessarily a lock. After all, they have new show options with brand names in the NCIS spin-off and CSI spin-off. And the network has a rich history of protecting veterans at the expensive of newbies.



TUESDAY

2013-14 Schedule
8:00 - NCIS
9:00 - NCIS: Los Angeles
10:00 - Person of Interest

Question: Is a third NCIS the only thing that could kick LA out of the cushy slot?

Copying the Tuesday question from last year! The buzz on last year's NCIS: Red always seemed fairly negative, but the conventional wisdom was that it'd still pull through and score a slot... until it didn't. With another spin-off in the works the very next year, it's clear that some powers that be are really invested in this happening. I would guess it's the only thing that could get LA out of this hour, and I'm inclined to believe it will do so this time.



WEDNESDAY

2013-14 Schedule
8:00 - Survivor
9:00 - Criminal Minds
10:00 - CSI

Question: Could CBS' development keep Wednesday intact for a little longer?

I've been surprised that some think the three-hour Wednesday lineup will return intact yet again, as CSI seems to be at the perfect point in its life cycle (after two straight seasons with 15%+ drops) to make the move to lower-priority Sunday. CBS' new drama slate might be the key here. Deadline describes Tea Leoni's Madam Secretary as a "lock," and also suggests that both of the crime spin-offs won't be on the fall sked. The political-themed drama seems like a perfect fit with The Good Wife, potentially turning their "prestige hour" on Sunday at 9/8c into a "prestige block."

If I'm CBS, I'd take the point of lead-in juice, the consistent start times and the lighter cable competition over the "fit," even if it's Madam Secretary scoring the second new drama slot. But a pairing with Criminal Minds admittedly feels somewhat awkward, so I don't completely count out CBS trying it on Sunday. If they do, they should be ready to send CSI to Sunday not just in fall 2015 but potentially at midseason, opening the Wednesday hour up in high-HUT January.

And if that second fall drama ends up being anything other than Madam Secretary, CSI to Sunday should be all the more obvious.



THURSDAY

2013-14 Schedule
8:00 - The Big Bang Theory
8:30 - The Millers
9:00 - The Crazy Ones | Two and a Half Men
9:30 - Two and a Half Men | The Crazy Ones | Bad Teacher
10:00 - Elementary

Question: Which comedy gets The Big Bang Theory's lead-in once football is over?

If CBS badly dislikes their development and is really hellbent on shepherding The Millers to syndication, don't count out a Millers return here. After all, Deadline buzz suggests CBS sees some problems in presumptive front-runner The Odd Couple. However, a new show would be the better choice for overall ratings potential. Newbie is more likely, with Millers bumped to later on Thursday.



FRIDAY

2013-14 Schedule
8:00 - Undercover Boss | Unforgettable
9:00 - Hawaii Five-0
10:00 - Blue Bloods

Question: Is there any reason to change anything?

Sorry, I try to be biased toward open-mindedness in these posts, but I just can't come up with any Friday scenario I'd consider better than Undercover Boss / Hawaii Five-0 / Blue Bloods. They all pull ratings that are perfectly fine for a low-priority night while not begging for a high-priority night. Even this is not quite a 100% lock, simply because CBS always seems to have trouble churning out a large order for Undercover Boss. So they might try something dumb in the fall and save Boss. But please, CBS, leave 'em alone. Next!



SUNDAY

2013-14 Schedule
7:00 - 60 Minutes
8:00 - The Amazing Race
9:00 - The Good Wife
10:00 - The Mentalist

Question: Will any Sunday option get CBS to move The Good Wife from its "prestigious" 9/8c slot?

This one is also relatively simple. If a new show actually ends up here, CBS has really got to give it the earlier slot and move The Good Wife to 10/9c. Starting a new show at 10:45 on NFL overrun nights would be beyond ridiculous. Assuming CSI (or another lower-tier veteran) ends up here, I think The Good Wife stays at 9/8c, but I'm only like 85% sure.

16 comments:

Spot said...

I had a similar line of thinking about Monday's with 2 Broke Girls.

And I agree about reruns being a challenge for a serialized show. But by eliminating a few of them Elementary (and most of the Thursday blocks) can have several weeks where it can take advantage of the other networks having to resort to repeats. Here I'm specifically thinking of January when HUT levels are higher but there's few if any sporting events or awards shows. It'd really be an added bonus if ABC goes the split-season route again with their Thursday dramas and NBC continues to phone in the night.

Spot said...

BTW, I talked about this last week but not in this post. So just to clarify, what Silvio does with Monday comedies is exactly what I would do. Additional move, but highly justifiable.

Spot said...

Sunday:
60 Minutes
TAR
CSI
Good Wife

Monday:
TBBT
HIMYD
2BG
Mom
POI

Tuesday:
NCIS
NCIS: NO
NCIS: LA

Wednesday:
Survivor
CM
CSI: Cyber

Thursday:
Football

Friday:
UB
H50
BB

Saturday:
48 Hours

Spot said...

Mondays - a lot, my schedule is similar to Silvio's, including 2BG moving to 8 in november, just adding, Moonves said that Elementary will start there and move to thursdays too (3rd season show, CBS wants more episodes for syndication), so POI will probably get a late start.


Tuesdays - LA moves to 10 PM, New Orleans takes its slot, NCIS weakened a bit but it is their #1 drama, time to let a show on its sixth season to air on anoter slot.


Wednesday - new drama will be at 10, they could move Criminal Minds, but it is smarter premiering the new dramas following the top ones, it could be Madam Secretary, but I does not fit with anything unless it is Good Wife, they are not going to premiere a new show against Walking Dead or at 10 to be pushed by overruns. Since NCIS:NO seems to be the best spinoff option, Red Zone, Kevin Williamson project could be there, CSI Cyber and Battle Creek go to midseason.


Thursdays - my bet is 60% Odd Couple, 40% Millers, Men goes to 9:30, so it can be moved if the owned shows collapse.


Fridays - don't change anything, just give 22 to UB.


Sundays - no, CSI Miami moved to 10 PM, The Mentalist too, CSI will be moved there either.

Spot said...

"But if NCIS only produces two long-running dramas out of it (The Mentalist and NCIS: LA) that's disappointing"



That's not entirely fair, though. DH was an instant Megahit, and ABC wasn't afraid to move its lead-outs to give a new show the love. Heck, Boston Legal only had half a season behind it before Grey's was slotted in. NCIS was a marginal show at the start, and took seven years to reach hit status, plus it hasn't helped that CBS has refused to move NCIS: LA the last few years. Think about all the shows that could have used that direct lead-in when it was at its peak a couple years ago: Vegas, Golden Boy A Gifted Man, The Defenders. Maybe Good Wife would have started stronger at 9 PM. It's just a difference in philosophy.

Spot said...

Moonves never said Elementary would move. That's misinterpretation by people too lazy to find actual transcript of his words. He said "there's possibility", and never actually mentioned Monday.

If you're interested, here's link, and exact quote.

http://seekingalpha.com/article/2016651-cbs-management-discusses-q4-2013-results-earnings-call-transcript?page=7


What we will do with our Thursday night is we have some big shows, such as The Big Bang Theory, which leads off Thursday night, and we're not going to wait until November to launch that. That's going to be on the air on some other night, which will grow the ratings and the rates on some other night for The Big Bang Theory. And we have that possibility with Elementary on the other end of the schedule. So what it will mean is, we will have more original programming on throughout the year, a few less repeats.

Spot said...

I don't like how MOM's best lead in ever was a 2.8 on its premiere night, and it won't probably change if the show is left at 9:30. I know there isn't much to do without some overkill moves, but this way MOM will become a Mike And Molly at best without really ever having a chance to hit.

Spot said...

CSI is produced with CBS just like the Good Wife and I'm sure is more useful in syndication than the Good Wife. When CBS moved CSI: Miami there, they still had hit Undercover Boss as lead in, so it was alright. They kept Miami at 10 because moving Good Wife to Sundays and having Miami change time slots would be a lot of changes for CBS standards. They let the Good Wife get preferential treatment over The Mentalist due to production companies, but the Good Wife has no such advantage over CSI. It say a 1.1 last week. It's completely useless as a lead in. I think CSI would be good counterprogramming in the 9 o'clock slot

Spot said...

I've been swamped all day, so now I am going to go all out on a real schedule.
CBS 2014-15 television schedule (with justification below)
Sunday:
60 Minutes
The Amazing Race
CSI
The Good Wife
Monday:
The Big Bang Theory
How I Met Your Dad
2 Broke Girls
Mom
Person of Interest
Tuesday:
NCIS
NCIS: New Orleans
NCIS: LA
Wednesday:
Survivor
Criminal Minds
CSI: Cyber
Thursday:
Thursday Night Football
Friday:
Undercover Boss
Hawaii 5-0
Blue Bloods
November:
Monday:
2 Broke Girls
How I Met Your Dad
Mike & Molly
Mom
Person of Interest
Thursday:
The Big Bang Theory
The Odd Couple
Two and a Half Men
The Millers
Elementary
Justification time
Sunday:
I feel like The Amazing Race is more compatible with CSI than the Good Wife. CSI is good counterprogramming to the serial dramas that dominate the hour. CSI has 14 years of syndication worth with it, so it should take precedent over the Good Wife.
Monday:
I think having How I Met Your Dad leading out of The Big Bang Theory a great idea. How I Met Your Mother first hit big numbers with the same pairing and timeslot. Fans punishing HIMYD over the HIMYM ending is like not watching Wings because you didn't like how Cheers ended.
Tuesday:
I'm not sure on the 3 NCIS night deal, but I think sending NCIS: LA to lead out of Mom would be a bad idea. Person of Interest had to basically fend for itself starting in week 2 when How to be a Gentlemen flopped and gave a low rated comedy lead in. Person of Interest will fair better there.
Wednesday:
I personally liked the CSI: Cyber backdoor pilot, even if it was a little cheesy. People are already used to CSI after Criminal Minds and CSI: NY before that, so CSI: Cyber can probably keep the same type of retention CSI did in its old and tired 14th season.
Thursday:
I think this year a Big Bang Theory/Mom/Two and a Half Men/The Millers combo would have been a very good night for CBS, so I'll just replace Mom with the Odd Couples. Mostly just to Matthew Perry can have three one season sitcoms airing out of the best lead in the network has (Modern Family, The Voice, The Big Bang Theory)
Friday:
Undercover Boss gets better ratings than any new drama there would, and probably better than any other drama being moved there (besides maybe NCIS and Criminal Minds, but they won't be moved)

Spot said...

Monday:
8:00 - TBBT/2 Broke GIrls
8:30 - New Comedy
9:00 - 2 Broke Girls/Mike & Molly
9:30 - Mom
10:00 - NCIS: LA

Tuesday
8:00 - NCIS
9:00 - New Drama
10:00 - Person of Interest

There's no way CBS does three hours straight of NCIS.

Wednesday:
8:00 - Survivor
9:00 - Criminal Minds
10:00 - New Drama

Thursday:
8:00 - TBBT
8:30 - The Millers
9:00 - Two and a Half Men
9:30 - New Comedy
10:00 - Elementary

I think CBS will continue to protect The Millers.

Friday:
8:00 - Undercover Boss
9:00 - Hawaii Five-O
10:00 - Blue Bloods

Sunday:
7:00 - 60 Minutes
8:00 - The Amazing Race
9:00 - CSI
10:00 - The Good Wife

...CBS usually does one unexpected move, but I couldn't tell you what it is! Maybe they'll surprise everybody and move PoI to Sunday.

Spot said...

I agree with just about everything you've said. There's no doubt that CSI is more valuable, it would be decent counterprogramming, etc. But given that The Good Wife is judged on those squishy intangibles and things that are less-than-rational, I think it'll happen again where the stronger procedural (CSI: Miami, The Mentalist, CSI) gets the worse timeslot in favor of "prestige."

Spot said...

My true fantasy schedule is stripped of 60 Minutes altogether to open up a radical attack on Sundays, but CBS are gonna keep on phoning it in, so...

MON: 8 HIMYD, 8:30 2BG, 9 TBBT -> M&M, 9:30 Mom, 10 PoI. TBBT's potential in the higher-HUT hour ought to get a six-week whirl, and HIMYD ought to be able to self-start at 8 from day 1 because it's a presold concept. Mom might not really deserve that six-week sampling boost, but it's worth a shot, plus it's Chuck Lorre synergy. PoI is easier to move here than NCIS NO.
TUE: 8 NCIS, 9 NCIS NO, 10 NCIS LA. Plonk the new NCIS in the middle of the NCIS night and you're basically guaranteeing sampling.
WED: 8 Survivor, 9 Criminal Minds, 10 CSI Cyber. This is a great launching pad for a drama, and replacing original CSI with new CSI is a pretty easy sell.
THU (post-TNF): 8 TBBT, 8:30 Odd Couple, 9 2.5 Men, 9:30 Millers, 10 Elementary. You can shuffle the last three basically any way you want, but I believe Millers should be able to get to syndication with relatively little help, and if it can't, it doesn't deserve to get to syndication.
FRI: 8 Undercover Boss, 9 Five-0, 10 Blue Bloods. The only change you can possibly justify here is giving a new reality show a whirl at 8 in February, perhaps with a premiere out of the AFC Championship Game if they like it enough - a smaller-scale version of how they launched UB itself. But it has to be better than The Job. You can shunt an underperforming drama here if needs be, too, and give its slot to Battle Creek.
SUN: 7:xx 60 Minutes, 8:xx TAR, 9:xx CSI, 10:xx TGW. It's beyond time TGW got thrown to the 10:xx death slot. It might not
even be a death slot for it because it'd be away from the worst of the
cable competition. A traditional procedural is arguably counterprogramming against the hip cablers here.

On the bench: two comedies, an unscripted procedural, Battle Creek, and depth that ends up being completely superfluous in the regular season and can be audibled into the many empty non-BB slots in summer 2015.

Spot said...

That's what I'm getting at. NCIS in its peak years needed to support its spin-off for that long? Part of the rationale of ordering a spin-off is that the show is co-opting the parent show's audience and essentially duplicating that strong rating to another timeslot. I would have moved LA in its third season, at the latest, to give something like a Golden Boy the best shot possible. To me, CBS is saying they think LA would be marginal at best in another timeslot. But with Monday's 10:00 debacle, marginal would be an upgrade if LA goes there.

Spot said...

Ah, so we are in agreement, then. I thought you were saying that NCIS was not strong enough to be a good lead-in, which, to be fair, was true for a while.


Now that I think about it, if The Unit hadn't fallen so quickly, it would have been the third. It used to rate better than NCIS.

Spot said...

CBS picked 6 dramas (and just two comedies) and Mentalist will come back.


How can they fit all of them in the schedule, comedies is OK, one veteran will be benched (maybe Mike and Molly, but rumor has it that 2.5 Men order is limited too), but that means 4 dramas for midseason (or five, because I believe Mentalist won't be there on fall).

Spot said...

CBS crushed my suggested schedule with their unexpected pickups. I said they're having strong drama crop... but 6 picked? De facto 7 with undead The Mentalist.
Yesterday that count was at 5, 14 total dramas, so it seemed they're still going with 4 comedy blocks, although maybe considering cut down to 3 in midseason. Doable if 2.5 Men has final 13 episodes season. Easily doable if at least one sitcom would flop.
Now count is at 16 dramas, so it's more and more likely they'll have only 3 comedy blocks, and surely 3 in midseason, with only slim chance it would still be 4 comedy blocks in fall.
But I cannot see how they come around Thursday Night Football with only 3 comedy blocks. I cannot see it for now, maybe there's a way.

Last season CBS had 12 dramas for 11 slots. Now there's 16 dramas. Both comedies and reality shows to lose one hour? Or there will be heavy timeslot sharing, Fox-style? Perhaps multiple dramas are pushed to summer?
Probably combination of above - with one pushed to summer (Scorpion?), and one drama hour more, that's 15 for 12 slots.
Actually, it's 14 for 12 slots. Because this scenario is very likely: The Mentalist renewal is likely for short season (not important, but that way Simon Baker is free in time to shoot pilot for next development cycle), with CSI going at Sunday in midseason, until then CSI keeps spot warm for CSI: Cyber. That's logical. But then they cannot premiere drama at Wed 10 PM. That takes away one timeslot for one of two expected drama premieres, while they'll probably now have 3 new dramas in fall.
If The Good Wife has shorter final season, replaced in March by Madam Secretasry, then it's 13 for 12 slots. They're OK with premiering new drama on Sunday 9 PM in spring, as by then football caused preemptions are over.
Still they need to find one more slot. Perhaps Undercover Boss gets short order? UB airs only in fall, or premieres very late with finale in summer? Then Person of Interest goes to Friday? Or they'll try new show on Friday?

But that' so many so many ifs. I cannot come out with workable schedule. I could only if it was Fox schedule with most of shows at 13 to 15 episdoes, and lot of timeslot sharing. So many questions, and only 2 days a ago it looked so clear. They ordered same amount of unscripted show with 16 dramaa + 8 comedies (20 hours), 12 + 10 (17 hours) for previous fall.

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