CBS Fall 2015 Schedule Analysis

CBS announced their fall 2015 schedule this past May. Here is my analysis of their schedule.


7-60 Minutes
8-Madam Secretary
9-The Good Wife

CBS's Sunday schedule is largely similar to that of last season. The only thing different is instead of CSI taking the dreaded Sunday at 10 time slot, that was given to CSI:Cyber.

Sundays might as well be renamed "syndication night #1", because none of these three scripted series exactly have ratings in the A18-49 demographic to right home about. In fact, Madam Secretary and The Good Wife struggled to stay above a 1.0 for the majority of the year. What's more, CSI:Cyber arguably underperformed in its post-Criminal Minds time slot (the one CSI had before moving to the same exact slot as Cyber), and being plugged into this time slot is definitely a negative. Instead of trying to grow the series in the ratings, CBS may simply be trying to ride this show to syndication, even though it is a full three and a half seasons away. I would say the show would have a CSI-like collapse, but it's ratings are already pretty marginal to begin with. Another thing keeping this show alive is strong international sales, as it is a part of the once-successful CSI franchise, after all.

Some say that Madam Secretary was renewed prematurely, as they did not wait to see what it would rate without afternoon football games (and thus a drastically boosted 60 Minutes). However, the fact that they were willing to renew it even being aware of a more-than-likely ratings drop shows that CBS's new strategy may actually be to get as many shows to syndication as possible. Maybe somewhere along the way they have to take a loss on the show, but that and more will be paid back with a lucrative syndication deal. CBS is known for not canceling second-season shows (there have been exceptions like The Millers), and I think we may be in for three more low-demo, high-viewership Madam Secretary seasons. The question is where.

Even though The Good Wife has never really had good ratings on Sunday, it is doing very well in syndication. That, along with the fact that in May it was one season away from completing the story in the creator's mind, is most likely what got it renewed, because it probably wasn't 1.0 ratings. This is a classic situation of a show with a syndication deal that more episodes would be of a great benefit despite the first-run ratings. Also, the fact that it kept its Sundays at 9 time slot, and didn't get downgraded, tells me that CBS is willing to make Sunday their female skewing, low rated shows that are only around for syndication purposes night.

Monday (September)

8-The Big Bang Theory
8:30-Life In Pieces

This Monday schedule isn't really much of a surprise. The Big Bang Theory will launch in September waiting for Thursday Night Football to end, while also leading into what CBS must see as its strongest new comedy. The question is if Life In Pieces performs well enough to move to Thursdays with it, or if it will be pulled from the schedule a la The Millers.

With three veteran comedies (2 Broke Girls, Mike & Molly, and The Odd Couple) off the September and even November schedule, I would not be surprised to see Life In Pieces pulled even with decent ratings. They'll be looking for strong retention out of this one, and a 2.0 after their strongest comedy just won't cut it, even though it would still be one of their top-rated shows in raw ratings.

The Scorpion-NCIS:LA duo is very conservative. I thought there was a chance the latter would move to Tuesdays for an all-NCIS night, but it has improved the Monday at 10 time slot despite taking a big year-to-year hit. I'm not too worried about anything happening here; both should rate relatively well and see another season.

Also, will another move to Mondays and then back to Thursdays hurt The Big Bang Theory even more? Only time will tell, but it is always good to remember that too many time slot moves for a once-reliable show may cause its demise. We've seen it recently with Bones and Supernatural. That being said, was CBS really going to leave The Big Bang Theory off their fall schedule? Of course not.

Monday (November)


CBS has decided to premiere Supergirl Mondays at 8 against fellow superhero show Gotham as well as The Voice. I expect that it won't perform to their fullest potential as a result. I see this as an experiment for CBS, as it will have a very different demo skew to their aging procedurals. Pairing it with hot new drama Scorpion seems to be a viable option. If they wanted to experiment even further, I would have placed it Sunday at 8 in the fall, where it would be boosted by football. Regardless of how it performs, they have practically invested a full season into it through costs, including that of extensive advertising. It could be cancelled at the end of the season though, and I don't see it to be as much of a lock as most other people.



This Tuesday schedule is also very similar with that of last season, except that they will premiere new series Limitless at 10 while keeping Person of Interest on the bench. I think the former will rate a little bit below the latter did (about 8%, which is also similar to what the league average decline will probably be), which got cursed by a somewhat surprisingly low season finale. However, CBS will make more money off of it being a CBS-produced show, whereas Person of Interest is their only non-CBS Studios drama. Although a fan of Person of Interest or follower of raw ratings may be upset by this move, it will probably be for the best business-related so long as Limitless isn't a huge flop.

As for the rest of the lineup, NCIS is aging and NCIS:NO seems to be very dependent on it. Both should be two of CBS's top-rated dramas, but there is the chance that we see NCIS did below a 2.0 for the first time in its 13 season history.


9-Criminal Minds
10-Code Black

Have you noticed a trend yet? On the Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday schedules, CBS has opted to keep two veterans airing 8-10, followed by a new or moved show at 10.

After moving CSI and the fact that both Stalker and CSI:Cyber underperformed, CBS is now hunting for a ratings hit to follow Criminal Minds. I don't think they will find it in medical drama Code Black, but it's worth a shot. As for the rest of the lineup, Survivor has held up admirably over the last few seasons and while Criminal Minds has declined, so have most of their dramas and were they really going to try a new show against Modern Family and Empire? Nothing else to really see here. I expect Code Black to be replaced by midseason, and Person of Interest to take over the 8pm time slot in between Survivor cycles.

Thursday (November)

8-The Big Bang Theory
8:30-Life In Pieces(???)
9:30-Angel from Hell

I put Life in Pieces in question marks here because although it is currently scheduled to move to Thursday in November along with The Big Bang Theory, its October performance will determine if its worthy enough. It moving to Thursdays is the best case scenario for the show. The worst case scenario is pulled from the schedule with a Saturday burnoff.

Mom anchoring the 9pm hour is a result of being one of the success stories of the 2014-2015 TV season, but with the high standards for comedies CBS has, I really don't think it is strong enough to anchor Angel from Hell to the point where the latter will have renewable numbers. That's where The Odd Couple probably comes into play.

Later in the night is Elementary, notably keeping its time slot and not being downgraded. However, the fact that they renewed most everything on Sunday and Friday, combined with its lucrative syndication deal, staying in that Thursday time slot may not be as much of a surprise as some originally thought upon first seeing the schedule.


8-The Amazing Race
9-Hawaii 5-0
10-Blue Bloods

Being all about compatibility, I thought it would make the most sense for a vastly declining The Amazing Race to air in between Survivor cycles. Instead, CBS kept it on Friday. I think Undercover Boss would have been a better option, but considering the cost of The Amazing Race is probably very low, I doubt they are taking a loss.

A renewal for Hawaii 5-0 surprised me considering all the shows worthy of that time slot downgrade, but I trust that a broadcast network knows what it is doing, and must be making a decent amount of money off of its syndication deal. Blue Bloods meanwhile always seemed like a lock for renewal, and keeping it on Fridays at 10 makes sense as I really don't see any other drama except NCIS or Scorpion doing better in that time slot.

Final Thoughts

Overall, this is a solid schedule for a network that has many aging and declining dramas. Nothing major was done, and I think every show has a good reason for why it has been placed in its respective time slot. What will be interesting to see is what they will do with their benched comedies, especially since Mondays will be out of the question unless they do a radical shake-up. In November, they will have four comedies airing, even though they have seven comedies this season.

What do you think of this schedule? Where do you think the veteran comedies will be placed? Leave a thought with a comment below and maybe it will be featured next Saturday as Comment of the Week!

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