CBS today renewed 11 more series, seven of them scripted, all of them dramas. So far, CBS has picked up 10 dramas for next season — all but one fully owned by the network — and only 3 comedies, Chuck Lorre’s The Big Bang Theory, Young Sheldon and Mom. None of the remaining series are considered sure things for renewal.
Criminal Minds once again faces uncertainty as it is heading into its 13th season finale tonight. The veteran crime drama’s renewal usually comes down to negotiations between CBS and ABC Studios that go down to the wire but so far have not led to an agreement. That may be again be part of the conversation this year. All Criminal Minds veteran cast members already have deals for next season, so the cost of the series is known, but there always is room for a network to ask for concessions from an outside studio, with its leverage getting bigger as the upfronts draw near. After a long run at 9 PM, Criminal Minds moved to 10 PM this season. It has improved the time period and is doing well in delayed viewing, which should work in its favor. But CBS will wait to see how medical drama Code Black, also a co-production with ABC Studios, does and evaluate its pilots before making a final decision on Criminal Minds. The crime drama is ending its 13th season tonight on a cliffhanger. A cancellation would rob its loyal fans of a proper ending and would deprive the series of hitting the 300th episode milestone, which would be its Season 14 premiere, ending its run with 299.
Not surprisingly, for a second year in a row, Scorpion has found itself heavily on the bubble. It has struggled on Monday, which has been a problematic night for CBS all around, a ratings hole this season. It’s not a surprise that the network has not renewed a single Monday series yet. That includes comedies Kevin Can Wait, Man With a Plan and Superior Donuts. None is considered a sure thing, even the Kevin James starrer Kevin Can Wait, which was flying high in Season 1. While doing a decent job opening the night and ranking as CBS’ top Monday program, the sitcom, a co-production between Sony TV and CBS TV Studios, has posted steep year-to-year ratings declines following the controversial killing off the comedy’s female lead. Of the freshman comedy series that have aired on Monday this season, neither looks promising to continue. That includes 9JKL, Living Biblically and the unofficially canceled Me, Myself & I.
More surprising is the bubble status of comedy Life In Pieces. Now in Season 3, the family comedy has delivered solid ratings. But it comes from 20th Century Fox TV, a studio CBS has not had a great relationship with over the past few years. Additionally, while the other recently renewed Thursday series, Mom and S.W.A.T., have improved their time periods vs. last season, Life In Pieces has not. Still, LIP is well received and features a very strong ensemble cast. It also is the fourth highest-rated and most watched CBS comedy series behind the three that have been renewed, likely helped by its Thursday location.
With comedies not doing great, especially on Monday, it will be interesting to see whether CBS would drop an hourlong comedy block in favor of a drama series next season.
Elementary is yet to premiere its new season. It has not been a strong linear performer the last couple of seasons but it remains a major profit generator for CBS with lucrative off-network and international deals, so I hear it is possible for CBS to order more for next season down the road. Midseason drama Instinct has not made a strong case for renewal yet and is heavily on the bubble.