CBS Renew/Cancel (9/21 - 5/7) — What Could Make CBS Renew or Cancel Both B Positive and United States of Al?


Below are predictions for shows yet to be renewed or canceled by CBS, followed by analyses. This marks the final edition of CBS Renew/Cancel for the 2021-22 broadcast TV season. Let us know what you think by leaving a reaction and comment, and check back to The TV Ratings Guide for updates on renewals, cancelations, series orders, and fall schedules in the coming days and weeks!

The Basic Rundown

UPDATE: CBS has renewed FBI, FBI: International, and FBI: Most Wanted for two seasons each. 

CBS has yet to renew or cancel 8 series. On the drama side, all three FBI series remain in limbo, as does Magnum P.I. and Good Sam. On the comedy side, CBS is yet to renew or cancel sophomores B Positive and United States of Al, both from Chuck Lorre Productions, as well as the new midseason replacement How We Roll. 

It’s highly unlikely that either Good Sam or How We Roll return next season, given they both premiered just this season to abysmal ratings. All three FBI series seem poised for a return based on their ratings, and NBCUniversal having the domestic distribution rights to the shows is likely what is prolonging the announcement. 

The three shows that could truly go either way are Magnum P.I., United States of Al, and B Positive. NBCUniversal has the international distribution rights to Magnum P.I., which like with the FBI shows, is likely holding up a potential renewal. CBS has distribution rights in neither United States of Al nor B Positive, but being from Chuck Lorre Productions will probably be enough to at least save one of the two middling performers. 

How Do They Compare?: United States of Al vs B Positive

This table shows 11 factors, along with where I would place United States of Al and B Positive based on that factor alone. While it’s not confirmed that CBS is actively choosing between bringing back one of these two shows, it is arguably the most likely possibility. When it comes down to it, United States of Al and B Positive were CBS’s two lowest-rated sitcoms on their fall schedule. Barring a comedy expansion, it is extremely unlikely for both to return unless CBS chooses to bench one in anticipation of a new show failing, or air no new sitcoms on the fall schedule. Alternatively, canceling both shows would be a bold move for a network with only four sitcoms in development — and none from Chuck Lorre Productions. Meanwhile, renewing one show and canceling the other allows for room on the schedule for a new sitcom while also maintaining some stability on the schedule. 

When looking at this chart, you’ll find that while United States of Al and B Positive have a lot in common, there are distinct differences between their performances as well. The ‘Out-Of-Time-Slot Live + Same Day A18-49 Rating’ argues that B Positive is clearly the stronger of the two shows, and also provided ratings stability to the Thursday at 9:30 time slot. On the other hand, B Positive lost a solid chunk of its audience this year, and United States of Al is down minimally. Both have underwhelming retention from their respective lead-ins; at 78% and 71%, B Positive and United States of Al have retention rates below most other CBS shows. 

As discussed above, one thing that could save both sitcoms is if CBS decides to expand comedy hours. After all, CBS’s three hours of comedy are three relatively strong hours. B Positive may be the lowest-rated sitcom on CBS not named How We Roll, but it would rank 4th on ABC and FOX, and out-rated every single one of NBC’s comedies. Plus, CBS needs something to occupy the Friday at 8 pm time slot if they are to keep SWAT on Sundays. 

While I think B Positive is the stronger show, CBS seems more keen on keeping United States of Al around. When it tanked in the one-off airing at 9:30 pm, they could have easily kept it there to finish off its run and launched How We Roll in the 8:30 pm time slot. Instead, United States of Al remains at 8:30, and it’s a tough argument to see it canceled in favor of a show that wrapped its season earlier than all other comedies so CBS could make room for How We Roll. 

The bottom line is CBS’ favoritism of the show combined with the slightly higher ratings and options for scheduling next season gives United States of Al the edge over B Positive. However, a strong sitcom development could land both in canceled territory. 

One Last Look At Magnum P.I. 

The third show heavily on the bubble for CBS this season is Magnum P.I. Getting a TV show into syndication on cable is less and less become a factor in renewals these days, but Magnum P.I.’s name combined with how close it is to what was considered the “magic number” not too long ago (76 episodes vs 88 episodes) help make the case for renewal. Here is the full chart to better outline what Magnum P.I. has going for and against it: 

Of already-renewed scripted series, only CSI: Vegas has ratings lower than Magnum P.I.. And unlike with a hypothetical CSI: Vegas cancelation, a Magnum P.I. cancelation wouldn’t look like a total failure for CBS given they got four seasons out of it. Its ratings are down a good amount from last season (20%), but the ratings in the time slot are down less so (Magnum P.I. didn’t premiere until December last season, while the TV season starts in late September). One of its finest assets is the fact it has an average of 101% retention from its lead-in on a night where CBS already has a hole to fill. If the likes of SWAT or SEAL Team were holding down the 8 pm hour, Magnum P.I. might have a tougher case. Instead, CBS has filled the 8 pm time slot with Undercover Boss and the low-rated Come Dance With Me since the turn of the calendar. Surely CBS will want to keep the promotional focus away from Friday nights if they can, and that won’t be possible if they start over with just Blue Bloods at 10 pm. 

There’s a chance CBS tries to get ambitious on Friday nights by leading off with a comedy hour and having NCIS: LA anchor at 9 pm, leading into Blue Bloods at 10. However, a night without Magnum P.I. is more likely than not a result of negotiations with NBCUniversal that fell through. 

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