CBS Renew/Cancel Week 31: Renew/Cancel March Madness Is Over, But The Tight Battle Between The Equalizer and NCIS: Hawai’i Continues


Below are the predictions for CBS Renew/Cancel Week 31, followed by an analysis. The following prediction changes have been made since Week 30:

-Elsbeth is upgraded from Leans Renew to Renewed
-CSI: Vegas is downgraded from Tilts Renew to Canceled
-So Help Me Todd is downgraded from Leans Cancel to Canceled
-The Equalizer is upgraded from Leans Cancel to Leans Renew
-NCIS: Hawai’i is downgraded from Tilts Cancel to Leans Cancel
-The Amazing Race is upgraded from Likely Renew to Certain Renew

This week’s third column on the chart is the newly-released 35-day multi-platform viewership from February 11 through March 3. These are the numbers as reported by CBS. Note that it is unclear if these ratings include Tracker’s two reruns as well as one rerun each for The Equalizer and So Help Me Todd. 

Scripted Predictions

Unscripted Predictions

So Help Me Todd and CSI: Vegas
As you may recall, So Help Me Todd and CSI: Vegas were both predicted to be canceled by this column last season. I had planned to move So Help Me Todd to a Renew category the same week CBS handed it an early renewal, but even then the reasoning went no further than the network seeming to favor the show. Neither really deserved renewals based off their ratings (both linear and multi-platform), yet both came back this season and performed similarly to how they had been doing. In linear, Todd is down 4% in the key A18-49 demo while CSI: Vegas is exactly even. In multi-platform, we know that Todd’s premiere was up 1% in Live + 35 from the year-ago episode, while Vegas was up 8%. Both did exactly what they were doing last season — yet both got canceled. 

After the renewals of the FBI spinoffs and S.W.A.T., it was becoming clear that CBS was running out of room for another Todd renewal, causing a downgrade to Leans Cancel last week. This week, in the wake of the multi-platform ratings press release, I had planned a further downgrade to Likely Cancel, with Elsbeth bumped up to Likely Renew. CBS handed each early decisions before that could happen. Both are ultimately correct predictions, but it can’t be understated just how downhill So Help Me Todd’s outlook went in the last couple weeks. It was predicted as Likely Renew all season long through Week 29, and justifiably so given the renewal last season. 

Like So Help Me Todd, CSI: Vegas is doing no worse now than it did in its first two seasons. With Tracker a hit at 9 pm, CBS must assume they can do better in the Sunday night death slot. Still, it’s odd to renew CSI: Vegas twice when it’s proven itself as a relative flop, only to cancel it the third time. I had overcorrected my missed prediction from last season, chalking it up to CSI: Vegas being fully owned and part of an internationally successful franchise. More likely, it just got renewed because of the impending strikes. Also likely fitting that bill is Bob Hearts Abishola, which was also predicted to be canceled. With all three gone after this season, maybe I was onto something. 

NCIS: Hawai’i
So Help Me Todd and CSI: Vegas were the lowest-rated returning scripted series on CBS this season in the Live + Same Day Adults 18-49 demo. The third-lowest rated was NCIS: Hawai’i, a show created in the wake of Hawaii Five-0’s sudden cancelation. Like So Help Me Todd and CSI: Vegas, I had gone into this season accepting of the notion that CBS was prioritizing fully-owned shows, and especially shows in franchises, ratings be damned (unlike Todd and Vegas, Hawai’i was predicted to return). That is no longer the case.

If the strikes never happened and NCIS: Hawai’i had a full third season, it’s very likely CBS would have worked out a deal by now to bring it back for a fourth and have it join NCIS, NCIS: LA, and NCIS: New Orleans in syndication. Instead, Hawai’i is still two seasons away from a potential syndication deal, and is inherently more expensive than the upcoming Origins and limited Australian import Sydney are. CBS may find they really don’t need four NCIS shows on their roster next season. Perhaps they work out a deal for another season with budget cuts. However, that would likely involve less (if any) LL Cool J, and unlike with Bob Hearts Abishola the studio won’t have solace of getting it a syndication deal with just that one additional season. Plus, at this point a renewal for Hawai’i would likely make it destined for that Sundays at 10 pm time slot. With CSI: Vegas canceled,CBS is likely indicating they think they can do better there. That won’t be the case should NCIS: Hawai’i take over. With Elsbeth renewed and a pair of cancelations indicating CBS is prioritizing ratings over ownership this season, NCIS: Hawai’i’s gets downgraded to Leans Cancel. 

The Equalizer
CBS so far has renewed both FBI spinoffs and uncanceled S.W.A.T., while canceling both So Help Me Todd and CSI: Vegas. At this point, it’s become clear that ratings still matter more to them than full ownership.  That very notion should be enough for The Equalizer to return for another season, likely airing Sundays at 10 pm. 

The Equalizer coming back for another season would mean NBCUniversal would have secured renewals for all four of their series. At this point though, it’s tough to bet against renewal for a show that is consistently proving itself to be a solid player in both linear and multi-platform ratings. As Paramount Global prepares for a potential sale, CBS appears focused on the strongest possible schedule — even if it means letting go of shows they fully own in favor of ones they don’t. As such, The Equalizer gets upgraded to Leans Renew this week. 

CBS came across as very high on Elsbeth in their Live + 35 day multi-platform rating press release, indicating a renewal was on the way. The linear ratings are nothing short of low, and it will be their lowest-rated returning scripted series next season in that metric. CBS does like to do business with Elsbeth’s creators, though. It comes from an IP that attracts an upscale audience, which will likely make Elsbeth more appealing to advertisers and more likely to draw in Paramount+ subscribers than its early ratings indicate. 

Despite getting renewed, Elsbeth’s Renew/Cancel Power Ranking remains steady at #10. With low linear ratings, it will find itself in a vulnerable position entering next season. As we found out with the cancelations of So Help Me Todd and CSI: Vegas, CBS is willing to renew a low-rated show one year and cancel it for putting up the same performance the next year. 

The Amazing Race
The Amazing Race’s ratings are far from remarkable, especially airing out of Survivor. The upgrade from Likely Renew to Certain Renew comes down to one factor: we’re approaching May, and with So Help Me Todd and CSI: Vegas canceled, CBS appears committed to unscripted on Wednesdays in the fall. Right now, it’s likely just a matter of which of The Equalizer and NCIS: Hawai’i rounds out Sunday nights.

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