Monday, July 19, 2021

The Breakdown: CBS Wednesday in 2020-21 (The Amazing Race, Tough As Nails, SEAL Team, S.W.A.T. and more!)

It's time for a journey through the CBS Wednesday schedule in 2020-21...

NOTE: In addition to classic A18-49+, Breakdown posts with 2019-20 ratings also use CVPlus, comparing spring ratings against a higher league average due to viewership inflation from COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. See here for more. Also see here for information on the 2020-21 league average.


2019-20SurvivorSEAL TeamS.W.A.T.106
2020-21The Amazing RaceSEAL TeamS.W.A.T.85 (-20%)
108 (-31%)81 (-7%)65 (-10%)


The big story for CBS Wednesday in 2020-21 was the COVID-related absence of usual anchor Survivor, leading to major declines in the 8/7c hour and thus for the entire night. The fall period was the strongest one, as another decades-old reality show in The Amazing Race filled in and delivered above league average ratings. Returning dramas SEAL Team and S.W.A.T. returned later in the fall for a season of modest declines.


2019-20Undercover BossCriminal MindsS.W.A.T.85
2020-21Tough As NailsSEAL TeamS.W.A.T.70 (-18%)
73 (-17%)76 (-22%)62 (-12%)


8/7c remained the Phil Keoghan hour even after the new year, as season two of Tough As Nails returned for ten weeks straddling the winter and spring periods. The y2y trends were almost as bad in this period as in the fall thanks to the 9/8c hour, where SEAL Team significantly trailed the final season of Criminal Minds.


2019-20SurvivorSEAL TeamS.W.A.T.102
2020-21Tough As NailsSEAL TeamS.W.A.T.69 (-33%)
69 (-58%)71 (-8%)67 (+4%)


Spring was easily the worst period for y2y comparisons thanks to the dreaded Tough As Nails vs. Survivor in the 8:00 hour. But all three shows actually held up OK in the spring, with S.W.A.T. posting some of its best numbers of the season.

Rating the Ratings

The Amazing Race Fall*0.60.680.8
Tough As Nails0.40.460.6-6%71marginal+19%detail
Kids Say the Darndest Things0.30.350.4-40%55marg(sum)-24%detail
SEAL Team0.40.480.6-27%75marginal-7%detail

The Amazing Race Fall: This actually had the exact same Plus as the "breakout" winter 2018 season, not as strong at the start but more consistent throughout the season. Considering it was up against a huge The Masked Singer season, this was perfectly fine. Grade: B.

Tough As Nails: Another show like The Bachelorette and To Tell the Truth that got an inflated Plus gain by moving from the summer into the regular season. My guess is it would've done no better than season one if thrown in the dead of summer, but CBS has still had plenty of worse occupants in this timeslot historically. Grade: B-.

Kids Say the Darndest Things: CBS rescued the Tiffany Haddish-hosted ABC revival which had previously aired in fall 2019, airing it in this hour in the late spring and early summer. I'm not sure what they were expecting, as it did poorly even on ABC, but it was close to a tenth weaker than Tough as Nails from the jump. Grade: D.

SEAL Team: Considering it got none of its usual Survivor lead-ins, I guess it held up well enough, but it's still not really an acceptable level for this kind of weeknight timeslot (even against the Chicago empire). The DVR percentage growth was basically identical year-to-year so no Survivor probably didn't make as much difference as one might think. SEAL Team is finally off the CBS sked (headed to Paramount+), but CBS isn't exactly shooting for big gains with another Tough As Nails return in fall 2021. Grade: C.

S.W.A.T.: Basically the same situation as SEAL Team. It didn't lose a big lead-in like SEAL, but it actually looked kind of decent in the spring and has good DVR gains. It, too, is clearing out of Wednesday in 2021-22, though it remains part of the CBS linear lineup (on Friday at 8/7c). Grade: C.

The names in this last table link to the shows' War of 18-49 pages. Links with an asterisk(*) have been updated with the new info. Updates to younger shows will come later in the summer.

Previous Breakdowns for CBS Wednesday: 2015-16 | 2016-17 | 2017-18 | 2018-19 | 2019-20

Here's the now updated Schedules Plus for CBS Wednesday.

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