Friday, June 17, 2022

The War of 18-49, FBI

Dick Wolf Comes to CBS

When FBI premiered in fall 2018, it had been a decade since the Tuesday post-NCIS timeslot had gone to anything other than an NCIS spin-off (Los Angeles, New Orleans) or a series featuring a major NCIS lead (Bull). But CBS was willing to give the showcase to Dick Wolf, who had created multiple huge procedural franchises at NBC (Law & Order, Chicago).

Like the Chicago-verse, FBI had somewhat humble beginnings. It started with a 1.3 after NCIS' 1.4, but it was down to 1.0 by week three and frequently lost more than 20% of the NCIS lead-in. In the end, season one certainly did well enough to get renewed, but it had worse retention than the previous occupants. In season two, FBI grew a bit in Plus, but so did NCIS, so it wasn't clear that it was picking up much steam.

Taking Over Tuesday

The dynamic changed somewhat in season three, as NCIS fell off again but FBI kept growing. Its post-NCIS retention was better than 90% that season, and that inspired CBS to make an even bigger bet on the series. It had already launched a spin-off, FBI: Most Wanted, in the 10/9c hour, but for fall 2021 CBS moved FBI to 8/7c and launched another spin-off (FBI: International). That bet also paid off, as FBI looked stronger than ever in the lead-off role. It matched what NCIS had done in Plus the previous season while NCIS went off to create massive improvement on Monday night. The FBI night became a huge part of CBS shoring up its schedule, and will return intact for 2022-23.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

12018-19Tuesday 9:000.970.81.3detailB
42021-22Tuesday 8:000.65-21%0.60.8detailB+

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:



The War of 18-49 chronicles the ratings history of veteran primetime series. For more, see the Index.

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