CBS Sets Fall (and Spring) Schedule

CBS executives were keenly aware of the elephant in the room Thursday as new co-CEO George Cheeks and entertainment president Amy Reisenbach opened their fall schedule presentation by addressing the latest rumblings in the sale process of parent company Paramount Global.

“It’s a super quiet, uneventful week for us,” Cheeks quipped as he kicked off the hourlong presentation just moments after news broke that Sony and Apollo submitted a $26 billion cash offer to buy Paramount Global.

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Other than addressing morale — “we’ve all locked arms” and are “focusing on what we can control,” Cheeks said — both execs spent the press briefing at the Paramount offices in Hollywood focused on CBS and its 2024-25 schedule.

Cheeks and Reisenbach opened with a victory lap of sorts as CBS finished the strikes-impacted 2023-24 in first place, breaking a decades-old record set by the network with 16 straight season victories and 21 of the past 22 years.

With a number of returning scripted hits, CBS’ 2024-25 schedule will also feature two strikes-delayed originals — comedy Poppa’s House and Matlock — along with rookie Watson, which was also developed off-cycle. The big shift will see Justin Hartley’s Tracker move to open up Sundays. Reisenbach also revealed that The Amazing Race will sit out the fall and return in the spring, with CBS using a bridge of game shows in January — The Price Is Right at Night, Raid the Cage and a new take on Hollywood Squares with Drew Barrymore as the center square — to connect the fall Survivor and The Summit in the fall and its spring lineup (Survivor, The Amazing Race).

This time a year ago, CBS unveiled a schedule that largely ignored the possibility of dual strikes by writers and actors. This year, Cheeks noted the network is very prepared in the event that IATSE and the studios fail to reach a deal. While both executives declined to share those details, the Kathy Bates-led Matlock has already begun production with comedies Poppa’s House and the Young Sheldon spinoff, now titled Georgie & Mandy’s First Marriage, starting in the summer.

Cheeks, who noted he’s only a few days into his role as co-CEO of Paramount Global (alongside Brian Robbins and Chris McCarthy) following the ouster of CEO Bob Bakish, noted that he will continue to serve as the “sole head” of CBS, with Robbins (Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon) and McCarthy (MTV Entertainment Studios, Showtime) each remaining in their respective lanes. The former NBCUniversal executive remained mum on the strategic plan the trio plans to unveil, other than noting that they’re still finalizing the details before rolling it out “ASAP.”

One strategy that has become clear is CBS’ approach to development. This season, CBS did not produce a single pilot but rather continued to open up development rooms and pick up programming straight to series as it did with Georgie & Mandy.

“Pilots aren’t dead but Pilot Season is probably dead for us,” Reisenbach said, noting that other broadcast networks have also evolved beyond the traditional January to May Pilot Season.

To that end, Reisenbach announced that the network has officially greenlit Sheriff Country, the Fire Country spinoff starring Morena Baccarin, for the 2025-26 broadcast season. It’s the network’s first series order for 2025-26 and comes after Justin Hartley vehicle Tracker, which was developed during Pilot Season 2022, broke out to become the No. 1 new series of the 2023-24 season.

“We do long-term development at CBS now,” Reisenbach said, noting the early pickup will afford the network extra time to get casting, scheduling and marketing right. “It’s a huge opportunity for us and speaks to the kind of development we want to be doing.”

In terms of cancellations, Cheeks and Reisenbach said the network had to make a number of “tough decisions” that led to the ends of NCIS: Hawai’i, So Help Me Todd and CSI: Vegas. (The CSI franchise, a staple of the network, remains top of mind with a new take on the beloved procedural in development.)

“It’s incumbent on us to keep our schedule fresh and keep momentum going,” Reisenbach said when addressing the cancellations. Added Cheeks: “It was an embarrassment of riches. A lot of our shows worked but due to strike delays, we have shows that were bumped to the following season and had to have tough conversations.”

Reisenbach added that there’s no chance that any of the canceled shows — including the final season of Blue Bloods — will be “uncanceled” the way the network reversed its previous decision to end SWAT.

Asked by THR why beloved shows like NCIS: Hawai’i and CSI: Vegas couldn’t be moved to Paramount+ — where CBS originals stream the day after broadcast — Cheeks admitted “budgets are challenged” and there aren’t “unlimited slots” on Paramount+ for those programs to move the way in which CBS’ Evil and SEAL Team did in the past.

Looking ahead, Cheeks said a potential Paramount Global sale is not impacting the ways in which the network maps out its long-term strategies. “When you can’t control those things, you strategize for the long-term. We have no idea what could happen, if the transaction happens or not,” he said of current offers from Skydance and Sony. “We believe strongly in CBS and we’ll keep doing what we’re doing.”

Here’s CBS’ 2024-25 schedule. All times are ET/PT, with new series noted in italics.

8 p.m.: The Neighborhood
8:30 p.m.: Poppa’s House
9 p.m.: NCIS
10 p.m.: NCIS: Origins

8 p.m: FBI
9 p.m.: FBI International
10 p.m.: FBI Most Wanted

8 p.m.: Survivor (fall)
9:30 p.m.: The Summit (fall)

8 p.m.: The Price Is Right at Night (January)
9 p.m.: Raid the Cage (January)
10 p.m.: Hollywood Squares (January)

8 p.m.: Survivor (midseason)
9:30 p.m.: The Amazing Race (midseason)

8 p.m.: Georgie & Mandy’s First Marriage
8:30 p.m.: Ghosts
9 p.m.: Matlock
10 p.m.: Elsbeth

8 p.m.: SWAT (fall)
9 p.m.: Fire Country (fall)
10 p.m.: Blue Bloods (final season, fall)

8 p.m.: NCIS: Sydney (midseason)
9 p.m.: Fire Country (midseason)
10 p.m.: SWAT (midseason)

8-10 p.m.: CBS encores
10 p.m.: 48 Hours

7 p.m.: 60 Minutes
8 p.m.: Tracker
9 p.m.: The Equalizer
10 p.m.: Watson (midseason)

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