‘NCIS’ and ‘CSI’ Spin-Offs Top CBS’ Series Under Consideration for Fall

CBS remains the top rated broadcast networks and with spin-offs of 'NCIS' and 'CSI' likely on the way that looks to be the case for some time to come.

May 1, 2014 at 10:23AM

It's upfront time...that annual event where the major broadcast and cable networks go all out to convince advertisers their slates will provide the best returns on investment. While the event is catered to the business world, analysts and viewers can learn a lot about where television is headed.

CBS (NYSE:CBS) is the No. 1 broadcast network and it will likely stay on top. Last year's fall slate was a little rockier than usual, but when you have a high level of programming, you can afford to take chances. To ensure stability this year executives might be more comfortable going the spin-off route, which will force some tough decisions this May.

What worked?

Millers

Credit: CBS

Last season CBS launched four new fall comedies with names like Chuck Lorre, Robin Williams, and Greg Garcia attached. Of the group, two have been renewed, one canceled and one's fate is still uncertain.

The most successful was Garcia's The Millers, which proved to be tops among all the major broadcasters. It was refreshing to see Millers work even though it flew in the face of TV critics, who blasted it for its low-brow humor. Yes, the show can rely too heavily on it, but it's still funny, and CBS helped put together a great comedic ensemble.

Then there's Chuck Lorre's Mom. It didn't reach Big Bang Theory or Two and a Half Men levels, but it has heart and it's a reliable commodity for the network. As a result Lorre will go into his second year of having four shows on the network...a truly impressive feat.

What didn't work?

Hostages

Credit: CBS

Yet CBS also had its share of issues with its other two comedies -- the over-hyped We Are Men and the surprisingly under-received The Crazy Ones. We Are Men was given an early series order last year, which usually is reserved for shows with high expectations, but ultimately audiences didn't find it funny.

The real stunner was Crazy Ones. Robin Williams is a gifted comedian, but viewers weren't bowled over by the series. It didn't help it was the lone single-camera comedy on a night dominated by multi-camera hits. 

While the jury is still out on whether Crazy will get a sophomore run, the executioner's already been called for Hostages. CBS' mistake with Hostages wasn't taking a risk on a limited-run series -- the network should be applauded for it. The mistake was not committing to it being a limited-run series. Executives and producers tried play coy on future seasons/versions and audiences weren't up for the game. Viewers wanted to know that there would be a resolution at the end of the 15 episodes, but no one would commit to that until it was too late.

The problem with Hostages was also that it gave ABC and NBC a big opportunity. Hostages' identity crisis gave Castle and The Blacklist a chance to swipe CBS' share of the 10 p.m. Monday pie. In previous years ABC and CBS split the timeslot with one winning in viewers and the other in the 18-49 demo, but with Hawaii Five-0 shipped off to Fridays and Hostages airing in its place, The Blacklist pounced.

Yet even after Hostages ended and Intelligence got the slot, the damage was done. Despite the Josh Holloway series being right in CBS' wheelhouse, audiences had already committed to other series and the drama faltered. Intelligence remains one of just a handful of shows not included in CBS' renewal announcement. It joins Crazy Ones and The Mentalist as network bubble shows and likely has the worst odds, despite its boffo (initial) premiere leading out of powerhouse NCIS. Although it didn't translate when the show shifted nights, its initial success may signal to the network it may be time to split the NCIS power team and use them as lead-ins for new dramas.

With Mentalist things are a little hazier. The show has treated this season as its farewell and rebirth all at the same time. Producers wrapped their long-running "Red John" storyline and then rebooted the series (in a positive way). But the drama is now over the 100-episode mark, already sold into syndication, and at the point in its lifespan where it's no longer as profitable for the network as it is for the studio producing it (in this case, Warner Brothers). Expect the WB to fight hard for this show, which still plays well internationally and benefits from its very charismatic lead Simon Baker.

What's next?

Ncisnola

Credit: CBS

Among the Eye's other series, the vast majority were given the greenlight for a return next season, including all of its reality franchises (Survivor, The Amazing Race), top-tier comedies (The Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men), and ratings-grabbing dramas (NCIS, Elementary, Blue Bloods). The Good Wife also snagged a renewal, which comes at a time when the show is in the middle of an amazing resurgence, proving quality matters.

CBS head Les Moonves made waves when he announced his network would likely only pick up two new comedies and two new dramas because of its strength of schedule (and that's not even mentioning the addition of Thursday night football). Likely that estimate will rise to three each when factoring in midseason, but the competition is still fierce, especially with Breaking Bad's Vince Gilligan's new project Battle Creek already being given an early series order.

NCIS spinoff NCIS: New Orleans and CSI spinoff CSI: Cyber are both looking strong as well, and that's damaging to other pilot hopefuls. These two are huge brands that make the network a ton of money and each have successfully launched spin-offs before -- a combined three. With names like Scott Bakula and Patricia Arquette attached, that could be too tempting to pass up. You also can't underestimate the Tea Leoni-fronted Madame Secretary, which looks like a great companion show for The Good Wife (but as CBS knows launching new shows on Sundays is always risky and not usually worth it).

On the comedy side How I Met Your Mother spin-off How I Met Your Dad is looking strong, especially thanks to the late-game signing of Meg Ryan as the show's narrator (filling the Bob Saget role from the original). In addition comedies from veteran standups Tom Papa and Jim Gaffigan are getting good buzz and Matthew Perry's Odd Couple remake remains high on executives' radars.

The bottom line with CBS: don't let one season's results influence your opinion on next season's slate. This network doesn't reboot...it reloads. 

Brett Gold owns shares of CBS. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich" rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

"The Motley Fool aims to build a strong investment community, which it does by providing a variety of resources: the website, books, a newspaper column, a radio [show], and [newsletters]," wrote (the clearly insightful and talented) money reporter Kathleen Elkins. "This site has something for every type of investor, from basic lessons for beginners to investing commentary on mutual funds, stock sectors, and value for the more advanced."

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better, so it's nice to receive that kind of recognition. It lets us know we're doing our job.

Whether that's helping the entirely uninitiated overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we want to provide our readers with a boost to the next step on their journey to financial independence.

Articles and beyond

As Business Insider wrote, there are a number of resources available from the Fool for investors of all levels and styles.

In addition to the dozens of free articles we publish every day on our website, I want to highlight two must-see spots in your tour of fool.com.

For the beginning investor

Investing can seem like a Big Deal to those who have yet to buy their first stock. Many investment professionals try to infuse the conversation with jargon in order to deter individual investors from tackling it on their own (and to justify their often sky-high fees).

But the individual investor can beat the market. The real secret to investing is that it doesn't take tons of money, endless hours, or super-secret formulas that only experts possess.

That's why we created a best-selling guide that walks investors-to-be through everything they need to know to get started. And because we're so dedicated to our mission, we've made that available for free.

If you're just starting out (or want to help out someone who is), go to www.fool.com/beginners, drop in your email address, and you'll be able to instantly access the quick-read guide ... for free.

For the listener

Whether it's on the stationary exercise bike or during my daily commute, I spend a lot of time going nowhere. But I've found a way to make that time benefit me.

The Motley Fool offers five podcasts that I refer to as "binge-worthy financial information."

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. It's also featured on several dozen radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable ... and I don't say that simply because the hosts all sit within a Nerf-gun shot of my desk. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers contain timeless advice, so you might want to go back to the beginning with those. The other three take their cues from the market, so you'll want to listen to the most recent first. All are available at www.fool.com/podcasts.

But wait, there's more

The book and the podcasts – both free ... both awesome – also come with an ongoing benefit. If you download the book, or if you enter your email address in the magical box at the podcasts page, you'll get ongoing market coverage sent straight to your inbox.

Investor Insights is valuable and enjoyable coverage of everything from macroeconomic events to investing strategies to our analyst's travels around the world to find the next big thing. Also free.

Get the book. Listen to a podcast. Sign up for Investor Insights. I'm not saying that any of those things will make you rich ... but Business Insider seems to think so.


Compare Brokers