CBS Renew/Cancel 2022-23 Wrap-Up: Lessons Learned & Reader Survey


Welcome to the wrap-up edition of CBS Renew/Cancel. This edition serves as a recap of CBS's 2022-23, and discusses lessons learned from the season. At the end comes a short survey where if you’d like, you can leave your thoughts on the column. 

Here are four correct predictions from which lessons can be learned:

East New York
CBS canceling East New York after just one season is a correct prediction. East New York’s ratings really weren’t that bad; while they weakened in the spring, CBS had previously renewed the lower-rated CSI: Vegas. Not being owned by CBS truly hurt this show’s chances, as did not being part of a franchise. It was fundamentally at a disadvantage from the very beginning, and was not able to overcome those challenges to score a renewal. 

With East New York canceled, Warner Bros’ presence on CBS is down to two shows: Young Sheldon and Bob Hearts Abishola. The former show may very well be nearing its natural end due to Big Bang Theory canon and aging characters, and significant budget cuts for the upcoming fifth season indicate the latter just barely got renewed. With The CW no longer a viable outlet for Warner Bros’ series, the production company needs to figure out a way to keep their presence on broadcast television, and fast. 

NCIS: Los Angeles & NCIS: Hawai’i
There’s been a pattern recently of CBS canceling a long-running series in the early months of the calendar year. NCIS: New Orleans, Mom, and Bull all fit this category in the past couple years. This season, the honor went to NCIS: Los Angeles, whose 14th season was announced as its last in January 2023. This was also a correct prediction for The TV Ratings Guide. Given how shows naturally become more expensive as they age, and how NCIS: Los Angeles was airing in the Sunday at 10 pm death slot for a second season, there were a few signs that NCIS: Los Angeles was headed toward cancelation. While I don’t think they would have abruptly canceled the show in May, a January cancelation made sense and allows the show to go out with some dignity. 

Like with East New York’s cancelation, the cancelation of NCIS: Los Angeles proves that ratings don’t tell the whole story in an era where most shows rate similarly. With age comes a higher cost, which can be detrimental to a show’s chances of renewal. At the time of its cancelation and for most of the season, NCIS: Los Angeles was actually higher-rated than NCIS: Hawai’i in a much less desirable time slot. Despite the ratings gap, the younger NCIS: Hawai’i was handed a third season renewal, as predicted.

The renewal of NCIS: Hawai’i proves that CBS still likes the NCIS franchise to a degree, even as they phase out the older spinoffs and kick NCIS off of Tuesdays. NCIS: Hawai’i is one of CBS’s lowest-rated scripted series, and is down 33% from its inaugural season in the Live + Same Day Adults 18-49 demo whereas its lead-in is down 23%. If NCIS: Hawai’i was East New York, it may very well have been canceled. Instead, as predicted, it will see a third season. 

Blue Bloods
If CBS keeps up the trend of canceling a long-running series with plenty of advanced notice, Blue Bloods is the obvious candidate. The cast and producers both took 25% pay cuts in the negotiations for a 14th season renewal, including lead Tom Selleck. Had Selleck and the rest of the cast and producers not agreed to that pay cut, we may have ended up with another Last Man Standing situation, where a solidly-rated long-running Friday series gets abruptly canceled due to expenses. 

All season along, this column predicted that a Blue Bloods renewal would only be complicated by expenses, and that the show’s expenses is a very real concern. With Blue Bloods, things played out exactly as predicted this season. With S.W.A.T. coming back after all, it’s unclear if CBS can really get away with ending Blue Bloods next season. For now, the 14th season renewal is something to celebrate in an era where even shows that networks boast about in press releases can be on the verge of cancelation if age makes them expensive enough.

Now, here are the incorrect predictions from this season, as well as lessons learned from each prediction. 

So Help Me Todd
This column has never been kind to So Help Me Todd, mostly because of its weak retention from the Thursday comedy hour. If CBS found the right sitcoms to pair up with Young Sheldon and Ghosts, they could likely have a four-sitcom night that would rate far better than their current lineup. To its credit, So Help Me Todd has been incredibly steady this season, and was actually one of CBS's highest-rated dramas during the week of its season finale. 

It's been clear from the beginning that CBS was showing favoritism to So Help Me Todd, but the change in management early on in the season gave me reason to believe the network wouldn't stay fully behind the series. It eventually was handed its second season renewal in February, shortly after I had decided to bump it up to Tilts Renew but before a new column had been posted to reflect this. 

Lessons learned here: Ownership matters more than ever, and don't assume the networks will wait until May to renew or cancel their lowest-rated shows. 

CSI: Vegas
With CSI: Vegas being by far CBS's lowest-rated fall scripted series, and being very far away from syndication, I had pretty much written this show off as a two-and-done. It's actually performing worse relative to the league average than CSI: Cyber did, which was universally considered to be a misfire. CBS renewing this show for a third season indicates they are likely trying to get it to syndication, even if Live + Same Day ratings success for the CSI franchise is a thing of the distant past. It's one way to fill the Sunday at 10 death slot. 

The lessons learned here: In addition to the lessons learned from the So Help Me Todd renewal, CBS loves their franchises. Also, syndication still matters. 

Bob Hearts Abishola
Bob Hearts Abishola pulled in solid ratings, but they paled in comparison to the other three sitcoms on CBS. Thia is a show that deserved its renewal, leaving an instance of incorrectly predicting that CBS would make the (arguably) wrong move. 

They did, however, significantly slash the budget of Bob Hearts Abishola. They trimmed the size of the series regular cast from 13 to 2, and gave the show only a 13 episode order. It's quite possible that Bob Hearts Abishola would've been canceled if CBS had canceled the same number of shows as they usually do. 

The biggest lesson learned here is to remember that if a network and/or a studio wants a veteran series to come back for another season badly enough, significant budgets cuts can make that happen. 

One of the only shows CBS's new leadership has canceled since assuming power in November is S.W.A.T, a sixth season drama owned primarily by Sony and largely considered to be on the bubble by The TV Ratings Guide for most of the season. The backlash was swift and unique. Instead of an intense fan campaign to bring back the show, star Shemar Moore was immediately outspoken against the network's decision in a strong-worded and lengthy rant on social media. The positive reception to Moore's post certainly couldn't have hurt with the post-cancelation negotiations that took place between CBS and Sony. 

The reversal of S.W.A.T.'s cancelation is a huge win for Sony, who this season lost The Goldbergs and The Blacklist. They have an ever-narrowing list of shows on broadcast, and losing S.W.A.T. in the same year would be a big blow for them. Still, S.W.A.T. is only coming back for 13 episodes, and the seventh season is confirmed to be its last. At least, that's the latest news on the show that was once canceled after six seasons. 

The biggest lesson learned here is that Sony will do anything to keep their shows on the air. The initial cancelation reaffirms the point that distribution rights triumph over ratings, especially for aging series.

Final Thoughts
With S.W.A.T. canceled at first, Bob Hearts Abishola facing significant budget cuts, and So Help Me Todd intended to be upgraded to a renewal the same week as CBS renewed it, my record was very close to being a lot better. However, the biggest incorrect prediction of all is the one of how many shows CBS would cancel. As you may have noticed, every single one of my incorrect predictions are shows that I predicted to be canceled that in reality got renewed. Additionally, my two biggest correct predictions, East New York and NCIS: Los Angeles, are also shows I predicted to be canceled. 

I had operated under the assumption that CBS would cancel a similar amount of shows as they usually do. In reality, that simply did not happen. In addition to the cancelations of East New York and NCIS: Los Angeles, they canceled midseason flop True Lies. That’s 15 renewals and 3 cancelations.

Now the question is if any of these shows got renewed because of a possible writers strike — one that ended up happening and is still going strong 20 days in. If so, CBS may go back to a more “normal” number of canceled shows next season. If not, it’s time I adjust my methodology to assume many renewals and very few cancelations. Maybe my record still wouldn’t have been perfect, but I firmly believe it would have been better if they canceled four fall scripted series like they did last season, or six fall scripted series like they did the season before. Canceling just two fall scripted series threw me off, and now it’s time to figure out if it was a fluke or the beginning of a new trend. 

Reader Survey
I’ve created a short survey if you would like to leave your thoughts on this column. Every question is optional, and as always I value your input. 

Share this

Related Posts

Next Post »