CBS Renew/Cancel Week 20: Even Without NCIS: Los Angeles, CBS Has Options To Fill The Sunday Night Death Slot

Welcome to Week 20 of CBS Renew/Cancel. Below is the updated table followed by a discussion of the following question: Which show will be headed to Sundays at 10 pm next season — otherwise known as the Sunday night death slot. Due to NFL overrun in the fall, whichever show gets this time slot has a rather ambiguous start time, sometimes even later than 10:30 pm. 

So far, the only show CBS has canceled is NCIS: Los Angeles. Given this, the only guarantee so far for CBS’s 2023-24 schedule is that they will need a new occupant for the Sundays at 10 pm time slot. Here are a few realistic options: 

1. NCIS: Hawai’i
NCIS: Hawai’i is the only one of the three NCIS spinoffs to have never held the Sundays at 10 pm time slot. Like NCIS: New Orleans and NCIS: Los Angeles, it is plausible to see NCIS: Hawai’i air in that time slot for a couple seasons before finishing its run. It is already one of CBS’s lowest-rated series, with the incentive to get it to syndication alongside the unlikelihood of CBS canceling two NCIS series in one season making it look stronger in the above table than it actually is. With NCIS: Hawai’i in the Sundays at 10 pm time slot, CBS can get it to syndication without worrying about hurting a show with potential for growth. Airing behind NCIS for two seasons, this is as good as it’s going to get for the franchise’s third spinoff. Given how well Monday nights start out, it is conceivable that CBS could try to do better than settling for a third season of NCIS: Hawai’i on Monday, even as it is predicted to be renewed. 

2. East New York
One of CBS’s two pilots in development is a spinoff of The Good Wife, a show that spent its final five seasons airing in the Sundays at 9 pm time slot. If ordered to series, CBS may very well want to air this spinoff in the same time slot. Doing such would either displace or lead to the cancelation of East New York. East New York’s value on CBS’s schedule will likely depend on how it performs in the rest of the season as well as how True Lies performs. Given The Good Wife was never a Live + Same Day A18-49 ratings hit, it’s not imaginable a spinoff would do any better than East New York on linear. However, it could realistically make gains on streaming. One drawback to moving East New York to this time slot is it would be a demotion very early into its run. At that point, one would expect East New York to either be canceled after two seasons or struggle to find a syndication deal after four. Of course, S.W.A.T. escaped cancelation after airing in this time slot, but that is more of an exception to the rule. 

3. CSI: Vegas
Although predicted to be canceled, CBS could still try to get CSI: Vegas to syndication by sticking it at the end of Sunday nights as they try to improve on Thursdays; likely with the Matlock reboot. Ratings would almost certainly be embarrassingly low, as proven by CSI: Vegas’s inability to grow more than a single hundredth out of a So Help Me Todd rerun this week. When a show is barely growing from a rerun of the network’s second-lowest-rated scripted show, it’s probably best to cut it loose rather than try to drag it to syndication. Still, if CBS intends on bringing back CSI: Vegas, this would probably be the right time slot for it. 

It would be rather sad to see a show as iconic as NCIS be sent to the Sunday death slot, but it’s not like CBS hasn’t already done the same to the original CSI. Plus, if CBS breaks up NCIS and NCIS: Hawai’i, moving NCIS to Sundays would mean only moving one show and having one less time slot change to promote. What makes this unlikely is that it leaves NCIS: Hawai’i, if renewed, airing after a non-NCIS show in a higher-priority time slot. Such a move is risky and likely to result in steep declines for the one remaining NCIS spinoff. If NCIS: Hawai’i is canceled and NCIS moves to Sundays at 10 pm, that will tell you all you need to know about the NCIS franchise’s future on CBS. At this point, that happening does not seem likely. 

5. Reruns
It’s unconventional, but CBS’s lack of a midseason slate forced them to regularly schedule reruns on Wednesdays after The Real Love Boat flopped. At the very least it would mean they won’t be hurting any existing shows by throwing it to the Sundays at 10 pm time slot. A similar outside-the-box option would be to schedule a show at 10 pm, but only air reruns of it when CBS has the late afternoon NFL game. In turn, it would mean that show would have to have a slightly reduced episode count. With so few shows in development, could CBS actually turn to reruns in this time slot if their drama pilots don’t test well? It’s very unlikely, but worth discussing nonetheless. 

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