CBS Renew/Cancel Week 22: No Room Is Left For A True Lies Renewal


Welcome to Week 22 of CBS Renew/Cancel. In this edition, the lone new midseason drama True Lies enters the table. Here are all the changes from Week 21:

-S.W.A.T. moves from Leans Renew to Tilts Renew
-East New York moves from Tilts Cancel to Leans Cancel
-True Lies enters as Likely Cancel

True Lies
True Lies has a complicated history in development, with the first reports of a series based on the 1994 hit movie coming all the way back in September 2010. CBS’s involvement first began back in February 2021, and it took them over two years to get it on the air. It is now airing in the time slot previously occupied by drama reruns and Tough As Nails, which itself is currently CBS’s lowest-rated series to not get pulled from the schedule this year. 

Given how many shows CBS has already renewed, True Lies had to really over-perform for it to be predicted to be renewed. A 0.32 premiere in A18-49 Live + Same Day out of Survivor’s 0.66 is not the way to show potential. Already CBS’s second-lowest-rated scripted series, it will almost certainly fall from here, as its lead-in going forward will be Lingo. Thanks to True Lies, we can no longer say CBS renewed their three lowest-rated scripted series. 

The 0.32 premiere itself for True Lies is actually not the dealbreaker. Just take a look at how So Help Me Todd, NCIS: Hawai’i, FBI: Most Wanted, and CSI: Vegas did this week. Like True Lies, So Help Me Todd got a 0.32 A18-49 Live + Same Day rating; it did this behind Ghosts’ 0.54, a sizable lead-in but not as large as Survivor. Also doing a 0.32 this week was NCIS: Hawai’i, airing behind a 0.49 for NCIS. FBI: Most Wanted rated a tad below that at a 0.31, airing behind FBI: International’s 0.40. Finally, CSI: Vegas *increased* to a 0.25, which at least has the excuse of having So Help Me Todd as a lead-in, but a 0.25 is still a 0.25. Yet, all of these shows have already been renewed. 

Ironically, the reason True Lies is already in the Likely Cancel category is *because* all those shows have already been renewed. There is so little room left to fill on the 2023-24 schedule right now, and one can presume some of that space will go to higher-profile pilots and/or additional seasons of more established series like S.W.A.T. and Blue Bloods. Keep reading for a further analysis on S.W.A.T. and Blue Bloods. 

The final nail in the coffin for True Lies is that Paramount, CBS’s parent company, does not hold any distribution rights in the show. That honor goes to Disney, who streams True Lies exclusively on Disney+ in Australia and New Zealand. It is tough envisioning a show CBS does not own or even have the rights to stream in every country worldwide getting renewed with ratings of this caliber. Its best chance at survival is if CBS can’t secure renewals for neither S.W.A.T. nor Blue Bloods, but even then there are other options. Therefore, True Lies starts as a Likely Cancel. 

East New York
The good news for East New York is in the span of a week, it went from a 0.2 A18-49 Live + Same Day preliminary rating, to adjusting up to a 0.26, and then to a 0.4 prelim rating for the next episode. The bad news is it seemingly is rising and falling with The Equalizer; it is not a good sign that East New York seems to be unable to stand on its own. Even worse, the 0.38 it did last Sunday was sandwiched between a 0.47 for The Equalizer and a 0.41 for NCIS: Los Angeles, making it look incredibly weak. This is especially bad when considering how tough the Sunday at 10pm time slot is; East New York did a 3.9 share in Women 18-49 and 3.3 in Men 18-49; comparatively, NCIS: Los Angeles rose to a 4.7 and 4.1 share respectively. Even more worrisome for East New York is that like with True Lies, Paramount does not hold any distribution rights in the show. 

At this point, CBS needs to decide what would be more valuable to their schedule: the unowned and somewhat weak East New York, or their owned drama pilots in the Matlock reboot and Elsbeth, a spinoff of The Good Wife. If executed properly, both of those shows arguably have much more potential to affect Paramount’s bottom line than East New York does. East New York really does not deserve to be canceled in a year where other shows that are arguably just as weak if not weaker are already renewed, but ownership is key in this era of low linear ratings and East New York has not proved it can hold an audience of its own. It gets downgraded again this week, this time to Leans Cancel. 

S.W.A.T. and Blue Bloods
S.W.A.T. and Blue Bloods are grouped together this week because they are both aging Friday dramas. CBS is notorious for canceling one veteran but respectfully-rated Friday drama in many recent seasons, including Hawaii Five-0, MacGyver, and Magnum P.I. This season, S.W.A.T. started out in the Leans Cancel category, below all other series, with the prediction that it would fall to the same fate. Blue Bloods, meanwhile, gets solid ratings in an incredibly low-priority time slot, and is now in its 13th season. Due to expenses, it’s not tough to envision one or both of these shows ending in the near future. 

At this point, CBS has renewed 14 hours of their fall Sunday through Friday schedule; the shows you see in the table above alongside 60 Minutes, Survivor, and The Amazing Race. They also have drama series The Never Game already ordered to series. That means there is very limited space left on the schedule unless CBS starts holding more shows back for midseason. 

My best guess is CBS intends on ordering both Matlock and Elsbeth to series, provided the pilots test solidly. They are both relatively easy to promote and fully owned by Paramount. Bringing back S.W.A.T. and Blue Bloods to Friday nights would arguably be ideal as CBS can then work on other nights of the week. If all goes the way CBS hopes with renewal negotiations and pilot testings, I’m guessing their ideal version of their own fall schedule involves moving CSI: Vegas to Sundays and adding Elsbeth to Sundays, The Never Game to Wednesdays, Matlock to Thursdays, and possibly a new comedy to Mondays. 

CBS should be doing all they can to bring back Blue Bloods; a cancelation this late in the season when most shows running for 10+ seasons now get final season announcements well ahead of time would be the source of huge backlash from fans. S.W.A.T., on the other hand, has been looking a bit weaker in the past couple weeks. It inched down to a 0.33 last week, and most recently hit another 0.3 prelim rating on Friday with the rest of the night at 0.4s. Being in its sixth season, cast contracts will need to be renegotiated in order to bring this partially-owned show back. If it does not rebound, I think there is a chance CBS tries to replace it with something cheaper, like a comedy hour. Given CBS has 3 comedies in development with vastly different profiles, it would not surprise me if ordering a couple of them is part of plan B. Therefore, S.W.A.T. moves down to Tilts Renew. Blue Bloods, for its part, hangs onto its Leans Renew prediction. 

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