CBS Renew/Cancel Week 10: S.W.A.T. Is On A Mission To Fend Off A Cancelation


Below is the table for Week 10 of CBS Renew/Cancel, followed by analysis for key shows. Shows with category changes from Week 9 are italicized. 

Here are the prediction changes from the last edition:
-S.W.A.T. moves from Leans Cancel to Tilts Renew, and rises three spots in the ranking

All season long, S.W.A.T. has deserved a renewal, at least from the standpoint of Live + Same Day A18-49 ratings. The main concerns were the fact that Paramount only holds US distribution rights, as well as that it is currently in its sixth season. After all, cast contracts tend to last around 6 or 7 seasons before they need to be renegotiated, which oftentimes lead to paying actors more money and as a result having a more expensive show on your hands. What’s more, S.W.A.T.’s unrounded 0.38 premiere was the lowest-rated of the three Friday shows. However, the average has only risen from there, and is currently sitting at a 0.43.

Given CBS Renew/Cancels are posted on Sundays, and Nielsen does not publish unrounded final ratings on weekends, the most recent unrounded ratings to discuss for Friday shows in these columns come a full 9 days in advance. On Friday, November 18, S.W.A.T. posted an impressive 0.5 preliminary rating, and one day after last week’s column was published, that was adjusted to a 0.52. Given CBS’s Friday lineup in general seems stuck at a 0.4, it seemed a lot more likely that if S.W.A.T. even kept that 0.5 in finals, it could easily be around a 0.45-0.46. Instead, it ended up being CBS’s highest rated scripted show for the week of November 13 - November 19. This is airing on a Friday night, without S.W.A.T.: International, S.W.A.T.: Most Wanted, S.W.A.T.: L.A., or S.W.A.T.: Hawai’i in sight. It even edged out The Equalizer, which gets frequent exposure from the NFL halo (although did not that week). In fact, the entire Friday night lineup finished in the top 6 out of 13 scripted series airing that week, and I think we all know an original airing of So Help Me Todd or CSI: Vegas would not have changed that. 

One could put forward a theory that S.W.A.T.’s local affiliate lead-in is much stronger than expected as well, and that S.W.A.T. is actually rating well because of that. Such a theory fell flat this Friday, when CBS aired their annual specials of Frosty the Snowman and Frosty Returns. In prelims, both got a 0.3 A18-49 rating, with Frosty the Snowman down 39% year-to-year and Frosty Returns down 23%. If the local lead-in was so good, what was stopping Frosty The Snowman from staying more or less even with last year’s 0.49, which is around in line with what S.W.A.T. did the week before? 

If these numbers hold for S.W.A.T., and I imagine they probably will in early 2023 when CBS in general tends to get a ratings boost, CBS would be crazy to cancel S.W.A.T. no matter who has international distribution rights or their history of ruthlessly axing a Friday drama. The Leans Cancel prediction os S.W.A.T. was mostly a prediction of what CBS will do more so than what they probably should do. It rises three spots and two categories to Tilts Renew this week, the most any veteran show has ever risen in one week this season. I still do not get the impression CBS would like to renew this show over, say, CSI: Vegas, but S.W.A.T.’s ratings bump combined with Frosty The Snowman not being able to match it should make CBS consider to (reluctantly?) renew it. 

Blue Bloods
It’s undeniable that S.W.A.T.’s renewal chances have improved during the year. Additionally, when adjusted for league average declines, Fire Country is currently the highest-rated scripted Friday show on any broadcast network since FOX’s Last Man Standing in the 2018-2019 season. The only other Friday scripted show in the 21st century to do better, relatively speaking, is Law & Order: SVU in 2001-02 and 2002-03. Blue Bloods is performing rather well too, on track to have one of its best seasons relatively speaking, 13 seasons into its run. 

Blue Bloods is to CBS what Last Man Standing was to ABC (at first) FOX: a well-rated show for Fridays that brings in high viewership whose future depends mostly on the star of the show. Tom Selleck could decide he’s had enough at any minute at this point, and it could potentially take as little as CBS not offering a pay raise. Still, with how well it’s held so far this season, it’s tough to imagine a schedule next year without Blue Bloods. Quite frankly, they’d probably be fine on Fridays without it if they renew S.W.A.T. and Fire Country, but is this really the year to toy with ending Blue Bloods when there are clearly bigger holes on the schedule? I’m sure CBS would like to keep Blue Bloods going if they can, given how successful it seems to be in syndication. Now at 260 episodes, my best guess is they aim to cross 300, a feat that can be crossed if not by the very end of next season, then the season after that. 

I almost upgraded Blue Bloods from Leans Renew to Likely Renew this week, based off its continued ratings strength. However, predicting a renewal for Blue Bloods is more like predicting how much CBS is willing to give in order to keep Tom Selleck employed, and there isn’t any indication that anything on this front has changed lately. Expenses is the only factor holding Blue Bloods back right now, a show that is as reliable as they come in the ratings. 

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