CBS Renew/Cancel Wrap-Up Part 1: Discussing Final Outcomes + Schedule Predictions


With CBS having already announced the fates of all their scripted programs, below is a table of their fates, final predictions, and whether said prediction was correct or incorrect. After that comes an analysis of the season as a whole. Let me know what you think by voting in the poll and leaving a comment!

The following changes have been made from Week 31:
-The Equalizer moves from Leans Renew to Renewed
-NCIS: Hawai’i moves from Leans Cancel to Canceled

Ownership Isn’t Everything
Last season, I incorrectly predicted the low ratings for So Help Me Todd and CSI: Vegas would get both shows canceled. Instead, they were both renewed by the end of February. Going into this season, I had given into the notion that since both shows were fully owned by Paramount, they’d likely remain on the air until they had enough episodes for a syndication deal, ratings be damned. 

After the renewals of S.W.A.T. and both FBI spinoffs, it became clear that both shows were not nearly as safe as I had presumed. I ultimately predicted So Help Me Todd’s demise, but figured CSI: Vegas being part of an internationally successful franchise would still be enough to keep it going. After all, they renewed it twice with relatively poor ratings before, so why not a third time? Even So Help Me Todd looked to be in no danger for a while, as its performance this season was virtually the same as its Season 1 performance. 

Last season, I did correctly predict that NCIS: Hawai’i would be renewed. It went into this season as their third-lowest-rated returning scripted series, ahead of only CSI: Vegas and So Help Me Todd. Still, the ownership factor, and in this case being part of a franchise, made it look like a pretty safe bet to return for most of the season. That changed late in the game, as schedule space started to run out. Like So Help Me Todd, I had predicted NCIS: Hawai’i to be canceled at the time of its cancelation. CSI: Vegas will go down as an incorrect prediction two seasons in a row. 

It’s possible that one or more of these shows only got renewed last season because of the strikes impacting this year’s schedule. It’s also possible CBS’s strategy has changed in the wake of Paramount Global’s financial struggles causing them to look for a buyer — something that’s now led to the resignation of Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish. Either way, this is a reminder that what gets a show renewed one season may not be enough to get it renewed the next. 

Streaming Rights Also Aren’t Everything
Other than S.W.A.T.’s un-cancelation, my two other incorrect predictions this season come from the FBI spinoffs getting renewed. Paramount lost the streaming rights to both series to Peacock at the end of 2023, a factor I predicted would contribute to the demise of both series. Perhaps that would’ve been the case if they were standalone series, and they were renewed only as a package deal with FBI. However, CBS also no longer has streaming rights to S.W.A.T. either, so it doesn’t appear to be a deal-breaking factor. The FBI spinoffs both rate respectively, and have looked stronger in linear ratings as the season went on. However, arguably one of the most disappointing aspects of CBS’s fall 2024 schedule is the high-rated FBI lead-out will likely once again be used on a spinoff rather than on launching a new series. 

The notion that streaming rights aren’t everything relates back to the declining emphasis on ownership. After much talk about what could be on the chopping block, all four NBCUniversal shows ultimately got renewed. While FBI was always a lock to return, whether on CBS or NBC, the FBI spinoffs and The Equalizer all had valid arguments for cancelation. They were subject to much discussion in this year’s column, and may end up being a topic of interest again next season as well. This in addition to Sony’s S.W.A.T. getting un-canceled, and Disney’s Tracker scoring an early Season 2 renewal. As far as canceled shows go, Warner Brothers lost Bob Hearts Abishola, and while Young Sheldon is coming to an end, a spinoff will take its place. The four other canceled shows are fully owned by Paramount.

Reflecting On The Prediction Record
With so many scripted shows, most of which rated well, CBS was a tough network to predict this season. While CSI: Vegas goes down as an incorrect prediction, I do believe CBS made the correct decision in canceling it. I can also understand the FBI spinoffs being renewed, especially as CBS seems more focused on ratings this season than they were last season. I’ll take accountability for an incorrect prediction on S.W.A.T. since I didn’t predict it to be renewed, although that’s understandable given CBS had already announced it to be the final season. While Season 8 was within the realm of possibility to anyone who paid attention to CBS Renew/Cancel March Madness, I had presumed Netflix would be its home. (Quick reminder: a renewal/cancelation prediction on The TV Ratings Guide is a prediction for whether or not a show will return on the network we are predicting.)

I did correctly predict that Young Sheldon, Bob Hearts Abishola, and Blue Bloods would all be canceled/ending at the end of their current seasons. All three shows were initially renewed, and later announced to be in their final seasons, giving me time to make such predictions over the summer. 

Other notable correct predictions include The Equalizer and NCIS: Hawai’i, which both were late decisions, as well as So Help Me Todd. The renewal of CBS’s lowest-rated scripted series, Elsbeth, was also a correct prediction. That puts this season’s record at 13 correct and 4 incorrect.

Looking Ahead to the Fall 2024 Schedule
Word has it CBS will be putting out their fall 2024 schedule this week. I don’t expect to see many veterans change time slots. Matlock will most likely premiere Sundays at 8, as originally intended in fall 2023. I also expect Poppa’s House to premiere Mondays at 8:30, where it presumably would be airing now had the strikes resolved quickly and Bob Hearts Abishola’s 13-episode final season wrapped early enough. Should it be ordered, Fire Country’s spinoff will almost certainly be paired up with Fire Country, especially with Blue Bloods ending in 8 episodes. Young Sheldon’s spinoff will likely take Young Sheldon’s time slot, and despite CBS brass calling NCIS: Origins completely different from other NCIS series, the cancelation of Hawai’i will likely see it land Mondays at 10 after NCIS. There’s no breaking apart the FBI night — CBS themselves basically confirmed this with the renewal press release — and Wednesday will probably stay 100% unscripted, led by Survivor’s 90-minute episodes. Should my assumptions be correct, that leaves Watson with little other options than Thursdays at 9, unless CBS thinks they can launch something new after Tracker on Sundays. 

Look for The Equalizer to change time slots next season. My guess is Sundays at 10, with an outside chance at Thursdays at 9. Elsewhere, Fridays could see a minor shakeup. Right now, a S.W.A.T. rerun is slated to air at 9 pm on May 31 per FutonCritic. A fall schedule that sees Fire Country at 8, S.W.A.T. at 9, and Blue Bloods at 10, followed by a spring schedule with Fire Country at 8, Fire Country’s spinoff at 9, and S.W.A.T. at 10 could be a possibility. Alternatively, keeping the Friday schedule the same in the fall and then switching to the latter schedule mentioned in the spring could be in the cards. 

It’s unclear if CBS will announce anything as a final season when they unveil their fall schedule. If they were to announce something as a final season, I’d have to bet on The Neighborhood. 

What’s Next for CBS Renew/Cancel?
Despite CBS’s scripted season not starting until mid-February, the network still managed to make all their renewal and cancelation decisions before May. That cuts CBS Renew/Cancel a bit short this year, with one more edition left. That will be the second part of the wrap-up, with thoughts on the fall schedule as well as early pre-season predictions. I’ll also run the annual reader survey then. After that, CBS Renew/Cancel will go on its usual summer hiatus. 

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