CBS Renew/Cancel Week 29: Elsbeth The Latest Headache For NBCUniversal + S.W.A.T. & Tracker Face Off In Renew/Cancel March Madness Championship


Below are the predictions for CBS Renew/Cancel Week 29, followed by an analysis. Underneath is the Championship Round of voting for CBS Renew/Cancel March Madness between S.W.A.T. and Tracker. This week, Live + 35 Day multi-platform premiere week viewership is included in the table of predictions for scripted shows, counting live, DVR, and streaming viewership on CBS, Paramount+, and CTV.

Scripted Predictions

Unscripted Predictions

Elsbeth finally returned for its second and third episodes on Thursday, April 4, to what were passable enough results. CBS attempted to use promotion during the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament to launch the series, though incompatibility and the fact it had already aired its series premiere led to ratings that could be seen as unremarkable at best. Still, that’s probably enough for Elsbeth to be renewed. There was promise in that both episodes had more viewers and at least the same A18-49 demo rating as the series premiere; viewership skewed even further outside of the demo than the typical CBS show. Plus, if Elsbeth is anything like fellow IP show The Good Wife, it will appeal to an upscale audience. That will in turn be appealing to advertisers, giving CBS a good reason to keep it on the air. 

While Elsbeth’s initial ratings are, as mentioned, passable enough, it can’t be assumed that they’ll stay that way. Promotion will ease going forward, and regularly-scheduled episodes will have to endure the So Help Me Todd lead-in. Plus, Elsbeth has never aired an episode against original competition from both ABC and CBS. ABC aired a Will Trent rerun against its premiere, while NBC’s Law & Order block was in rerun mode this past Thursday. If Elsbeth’s ratings drop significantly in the future and if NBCUniversal offers CBS a deal they can’t refuse on their four shows, Elsbeth could end up in trouble. As things stand now, though, Elsbeth remains on the right side of the bubble.

Should Elsbeth not return on CBS, it’s highly likely it’ll be given a chance as a Paramount+ original a la The Good Fight and Evil. The Leans Renew prediction is solely for if the fully owned series will return for a second season on CBS.

NBCUniversal Negotiations
Elsbeth not being a total failure gives CBS another advantage in negotiations with NBCUniversal pertaining to the FBI franchise and The Equalizer. Elsbeth flopping would likely lead to a new show like Watson plugging a hole on Thursdays. With Elsbeth making a case to remain on the schedule, Watson can head to Tuesdays in lieu of an FBI spinoff. 

At this point, everything is going wrong for NBCUniversal. Tracker is undeniably a hit, Elsbeth isn’t flopping, and all of the Paramount-owned returning series are holding up well enough to make their case for another renewal. At this point, NBCUniversal may well be giving up on hopes of getting renewals for all four of their series. Could the reason NBC aired reruns against Elsbeth be so that Elsbeth would premiere well, essentially seeing the writing on the wall and hoping they can steal an FBI or The Equalizer for themselves? It’s highly unlikely, but I suppose anything is possible for the network that mysteriously left Law & Order: Organized Crime out of Dick Wolf’s mass renewal. 

The FBI spinoffs will remain in Leans Cancel for now, as we wait to see where Elsbeth settles. FBI itself remains in Leans Renew. A deal is more probable than not to be made to keep it on CBS, and if not, NBC will pick it up a la ABC and 9-1-1. The Equalizer remains in Tilts Renew, a true bubble show that could be  used on Fridays if the financials work out. Remember, Paramount has the domestic streaming rights to all seasons of FBI and The Equalizer, but only the concurrent ones of FBI: International and FBI: Most Wanted. Any and all renewals may come with a twist, whether it be a pre-announced final season for a deal that barely happened, or another two-season renewal for a show CBS wants to keep but needs to keep costs down. 

CSI: Vegas
Last season, my biggest miss was CSI: Vegas. I had it practically written off at the time of its renewal, sitting in the Likely Cancel column and ranked below all other shows. That made for two out of two seasons where CSI: Vegas was CBS’s lowest-rated scripted renewal. If renewed (as predicted this time), it may very well be CBS’s lowest-rated renewal for the third out of three seasons. Its 86% lift in viewership from Live + Same Day to 35-day multi-platform is on the healthier side for CBS, but that only lifts it one spot in the total viewership rankings, from last place to second-to-last place. 

CBS may decide they want to finally try and utilize that Sundays at 10 pm time slot next season, now that they have a real hit with Tracker at 9 pm. However, with football-related delays often pushing the 10 pm show in the fall to 10:30 pm, sticking a show that’s mostly around to add to the Paramount+ catalog and for international sales is probably not the worst idea.

CBS Renew/Cancel March Madness Championship

It’s time now for the final week of voting for CBS Renew/Cancel March Madness. Voting is between two shows in very different positions on CBS’s schedule. One of these is the 17 seed S.W.A.T., which has led voting every week and whose seventh season concludes in May. Previously announced as a final season on CBS, fans and cast members alike are hopeful someone will pick it up for an eighth. The other is the 2 seed Tracker, CBS’s new hit which has seen thrived in late-week voting. All of Tracker’s wins have been come-from-behind. 

While turnout is much higher this year than in last year’s tournament, the championship game does share a resemblance. Last year, the bottom-seeded NCIS: Los Angeles had led voting every week and faced off against CBS’s latest hit Fire Country in the championship. That time, Fire Country ultimately pulled off a narrow win, getting 52% of the vote to NCIS: LA’s 48%, a surprise given previous voting patterns. This was despite NCIS: LA getting more votes than it received in any given previous round.

Can Tracker pull off the same win against S.W.A.T. as Fire Country did against NCIS: Los Angeles? Will S.W.A.T. take down Tracker in the same resounding fashion as it took down Bob Hearts Abishola, Fire Country, FBI, and NCIS? S.W.A.T. had by far the toughest path to the championship game on paper, yet beat all its opponents with between 91.6% and 98.4% of the vote. Meanwhile, Tracker is known for its come-from-behind wins, and four resounding wins in a row for S.W.A.T. runs the risk of complacency for the fifth and final matchup. 

The winner will be revealed in CBS Renew/Cancel Week 30. Vote for the show you would most like to see win CBS Renew/Cancel March Madness!

You can also vote in our Renew/Cancel March Madness tournaments for ABC here, FOX here, and NBC here.

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