May 15, 2019

NIELSENWAR: The Fall 2019 CBS Schedule & Analysis

We’ve reached the broadcast networks’ Upfront Week… which used to be a lot more central to our television lives than it is now.  Ratings everywhere are down, and there’s no reason to think they’ve hit bottom, which has caused seismic changes in the ways networks make scheduling decisions.  Among other things, with revenues from on-air linear advertising shrinking, distribution rights are key, and the desire for flexibility often means shorter orders than the traditional 13 + 9.  We’ll take a look at each network’s new slate as it’s announced.

CBS, traditionally among the most conservative networks when it comes to scheduling, is shaking up some nights next fall:

LAST SEASON:  It’s end of an era time at CBS.  The network lost patriarch Les Moonves via scandal, and its flagship series The Big Bang Theory is about to depart.  Add to that the erosion in NCIS and its spin-offs, and after years of relying on its veterans, it was time for CBS to change.

FALL:  Two nights of the week are being ripped up, more or less, although the new entries still seem mostly on brand for a network that’s always been very mindful of its target audience..

Monday:  The Neighborhood returns, but partnered now with the new Chuck Lorre comedy BOB HEARTS ABISHOLA.  (As is usually the case with Lorre, the pilot script is credited not just to him but to senior writer/producers Eddie Gorodetsky, Al Higgins and Gina Yashere.)  It stars Billy Gardell from Mike & Molly, and it continues the interracial comedy theme of its lead-in.  The sitcoms are followed by the legal procedural ALL RISE, from creator Greg Spottiswood, whose previous shows were Canadian productions.  The night winds up with the somewhat controversial return of Bull, this time without producer Steven Spielberg attached.

Tuesday:  NCIS, FBI and NCIS: New Orleans all return..

Wednesday:  Survivor is followed by a pair of the network’s more recent procedurals, SEAL Team and SWAT.

Thursday:  We’re finally going to find out how Young Sheldon performs without its Big Bang Theory lead-in.  Its lead-out will be the new sitcom THE UNICORN, starring Walton Goggins as a middle-aged man back in the dating pool, and created by veterans Bill Martin and Mike Schiff, whose credits date back to 3rd Rock From the Sun, and who were recently on the CBS sitcoms Fam and Living Biblically.  After Mom, the network presents the Patricia Heaton vehicle CAROL’S SECOND ACT, from Emily Halpern and Sarah Haskins, who created the short-lived but admired Trophy Wife.  The biggest wild card on the schedule comes at 10PM in the form of EVIL, a horror hour created by Robert & Michelle King, who gave us The Good Wife and its spin-off.

Friday:  Hawaii 5-0 slides to 8PM, and in place of the MacGyver reboot, the night features the Magnum PI reboot, relocated from Mondays.  Blue Bloods stays at 10PM.

Sunday:  60 Minutes, God Friended Me, NCIS: LA and Madam Secretary all return, although the latter will only be on hand for a truncated 10-episode final run.

MIDSEASON:  The comedy BROKE, the FBI spin-off FBI: MOST WANTED, and cop drama TOMMY starring Edie Falco, as well as MacGyver and the final season of Criminal Minds.

FORECAST:  For the most part, the schedule shifts should provide a fairly steady result.  But Thursdays are going to determine whether the season is seen as a win or a loss for CBS, and whether the network can get past the loss of TV’s biggest comedy without serious wounds.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."