Criminal Minds was conspicuously missing from the list of 11 returning series given early renewals by CBS in March, the only established series not to make the cut. It was not because of ratings performance — in its 11th season, Criminal Minds remained a top 10 drama in viewers (12.04 million), adults 18-49 (2.8/9) and adults 25-54 (3.8/10), and ranks as CBS’ second-highest-rated drama in these demographics.
As is the case in many renewal decisions these days, the reasons were financial. As an 11-year-old show, Criminal Minds is expensive, with the network supposed to cover the costs full freight. Meanwhile, the series is a co-production between ABC Studios and CBS TV Studios, with the leading studio, ABC Studios, reaping most of the benefits, including sales internationally where Criminal Minds is very strong. (It also is a rare procedural that does very well on streaming platforms.) Because ABC Studios has an incentive to produce episodes, I hear it has agreed to the renewal at a reduced license fee, something studios are willing to do on profitable franchises.
Speaking of franchises, also possibly factoring into the delay in CBS’ renewal decision for Criminal Minds was the fact that offshoot Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders was just launching when the network made its mass renewals, before it was clear how the spinoff would do. It has performed well enough to be in contention for renewal, along with fellow freshman dramas Limitless, Supergirl and Code Black.
The renewal of Criminal Minds leaves CSI: Cyber as the only returning CBS series whose fate has not been determined. The sophomore is very much on the bubble because of its so-so ratings performance but, being part of the formidable CSI franchise, the last remaining offshoot is making money for CBS TV Studios, turning the renewal into a business decision.
Criminal Minds stars Joe Mantegna, Thomas Gibson, Matthew Gray Gubler, A.J. Cook and Kirsten Vangsness, with original cast member Shemar Moore recently departing the series. Mark Gordon, Erica Messer and Breen Frazier are executive producers.