A couple of years ago, CBS brought back with great fanfare ‘Hawaii 5-0’ as the cornerstone of their Monday nights at 10P. They needed to make this time period their own for their O&O’s lead in to local news. Bringing back McGarrett and friends worked like a charm. That is before ABC’s ‘Castle’ began hammering better scripts and more likable characters to drive a wedge between CBS’ plan and their audience’s reaction.
The American viewer is unique. They want a long term commitment between their favorite characters and unique, exciting and well written storylines. There is no better illustration than USA’s ‘Burn Notice’. For seven season, we followed the exploits of Michael and Fi, Sam and Jesse along with Maddie. These were people we began to know and wished for their success. Although an action adventure, the writing was crisp and clean, always with a bit of wit and delight. The folks at ‘Castle’ understand this better then most. Episode after episode, year after year, ‘Castle’s’ main characters, have drawn us in and made us part of their family. On Monday night of premiere week, Becket could not have said it better: “Richard Edgar Alexander Rogers Castle, yes.” In its sixth season, ‘Castle’ was back and pushed the newest CBS entry, ‘Hostages’ to the basement as NBC’s much anticipated James Spader vehicle, ‘The Blacklist’, eaked out a win in this most important timeslot. For the evening, NBC won with 13.982 million viewers; ABC was #2 with 12.737 million viewers while CBS finished fourth with 8.338 million viewers. Yes. CBS finished FOURTH. Oh, ESPN’s ‘Monday Night Football’ drew 10+ million viewers, with 66% of Denver area television homes tuned into the game against the Oakland Raiders.
When was the last time you saw that? No. Not the Denver thing….but the CBS in 4th place thing,
To understand the enormity of this is when you take a look at the total viewership for the 10P hour. ‘The Blacklist’ finished with 12.62 million viewers, winning the timeslot. ‘Castle’ finished right behind with 11.48 million. ‘Hostages’ was dead last, some 5 million viewers behind the leader, with only 7.48 million. Biggest problem for CBS is that their newest program lost 600,00 of its viewers in its last half hour. To understand this severity, ‘Hawaii 5-0’ last season premier had dropped to 8.06 million viewers. ‘Hostages’ has now performed BELOW that. How bad was that?
Frankly, it finished 28% behind CBS’ last year timeslot program, now cancelled, ‘Vegas’ and 42% behind their 2012 timeslot entry ‘Elementary’. Why? How many people feel they like the idea of a short term series (it is promoted as a limited 15 episode series) which is headed up by a surgeon whose family is taken captive by a rogue FBI agent just before she is about to operate on the President of the United States and is told to kill the Head of State?
Who thinks this type of promotion is going to drive people to like these characters… especially in a world filled with turmoil (the latest Kenya shopping center tragedy fresh in the minds of many), when you have Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic plus the beloved James Spader to watch? Who actually believes this show has a chance? Raise your hands: Fillion and Katic and Spader or Collette and McDermott?
It’s about writing and likable characters from which a top program is made. FOX, which finished last for the evening with 7.610 million viewers, had their new show, ‘Sleepy Hollow’ (8.562 million) finish ahead of CBS’ new show ‘Mom’ (7.923 million) at 930P leading into ‘Hostages’. Is this the beginning of the end of the CBS decade of dominance?
For the first time in memory, CBS failed to deliver a single hour of programming above 10 million viewers on a Monday. And this is the beginning of the programming year.
“Kelly? We have a problem!”