CBS Renew/Cancel Week 23: Streaming Rights and Strong Ratings May Save The Equalizer


Below are the Week 23 renew/cancel predictions for scripted and unscripted CBS series, followed by an analysis. Note that preliminary ratings are used for Thursday, February 22 and Friday, February 23 due to final ratings not being available at the time of publishing. The following changes have been made from Week 22:

-The Equalizer is upgraded from Tilts Cancel to Tilts Renew
-FBI: Most Wanted is downgraded from Tilts Renew to Tilts Cancel



The Equalizer
If The Equalizer was fully owned by Paramount, it’d probably be in the Likely Renew category at this point. Instead, a potential renewal faces two major hurdles. First, it’s primarily produced by NBCUniversal, with Paramount holding a smaller stake in it via CBS Studios. Second, CBS’s original fall 2023 schedule indicates a desire to place the upcoming Matlock in The Equalizer’s current time slot. That would mean if The Equalizer were to be renewed, CBS would have to find space for it elsewhere on the schedule. It was originally slated for Sundays at 9 on the fall 2023 schedule, and the move there in the fall would make sense had it not been for the post-Super Bowl show Tracker ultimately taking the time slot in the spring. Suddenly, if Tracker continues to do good enough for a renewal, The Equalizer would probably be looking at a move to a different night were it to survive. 

Given Paramount is able to stream all seasons of The Equalizer on Paramount+, they do have an incentive to negotiate a renewal with NBCUniversal. It doesn’t hurt that it returned strong in Live + Same Day ratings. While its ratings will likely fade in upcoming weeks, if it remains competitive with the FBI spinoffs it might just have a chance. 

CBS has also indicated plans to turn Fire Country into a franchise. That will likely begin with a new spinoff at 10 pm midseason after Blue Bloods ends, and ultimately continue with a third Country series at 8 pm. That means whatever airs Fridays at 8 pm in the fall doesn’t have much of a future. In that case, why premiere a new show like Watson there and risk it hurting Fire Country when they could just rise out a more established series like The Equalizer there for a season or two?  

FBI: Most Wanted
FBI: Most Wanted does not deserve to be canceled. However, with the changing economics of broadcast television, it’s currently considered to be on the bubble. There are quite a few shows that should be on the bubble before FBI: Most Wanted (many of you know my feelings on So Help Me Todd by now), but being only partially owned with streaming rights limited to the current season is a major hurdle to a renewal. It’s arguably not in as much trouble as fellow spinoff FBI: International due to relatively stronger ratings and streaming figures (based on positions on Paramount+‘a Popular Shows list). It also could get bundled in with a renewal for FBI, depending on how well NBCUniversal does in the renewal negotiations. However, through no fault of its own, FBI: Most Wanted is currently finding itself on the wrong side of the bubble. 

Last week, I said it was too soon to make anything of Tracker’s ratings. How a brand new show performs after the Super Bowl depends almost entirely on the show’s start time. In this case, it was roughly 11 pm, squarely out of prime time. Tracker’s time slot premiere had excellent retention from The Equalizer and is holding its own on Paramount+. I’m still not sure why they premiered a show that have no ownership stake in after the Super Bowl other than possibly to get as much ad revenue as they can, but the least they can say is it’s not an immediate flop. We’ll see where ratings stabilize, but so far a renewal would be deserved. 

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