'Harper's' saved by DVR interest, online auds

CBS is exiling “Harper’s Island” to Saturdays, which continues to serve as a clearinghouse for original series that didn’t quite cut it during the week.

According to the network, “Harper’s Island” got a reprieve from outright cancellation thanks to its live-plus-seven Nielsen ratings, which exhibited solid DVR interest in the show’s premiere. The limited series also earned a healthy online streaming audience.

In other words, the show was mediocre enough in its Thursday night performance that it didn’t deserve a home behind “CSI” – one of the best timeslots on TV – but not weak enough to be taken off the air altogether.

“Harper’s Island,” a murder mystery from CBS Paramount Network TV, was also promoted as a limited-run series, and all 13 episodes already have been produced and edited – which makes it easier for Eye to let the show run its course.

“Harper’s Island” will now air Saturdays at 9 p.m., leading into “48 Hours Mystery,” giving the Eye two original series on the night.

“This move gives us an opportunity to improve the time period on Thursday while experimenting with more original programming on Saturday,” CBS senior exec VP Kelly Kahl said.

Last Thursday, “Harper’s Island” averaged 7 million viewers and a 1.9 rating/5 share among adults 18-49 – placing the show third in the slot, behind ABC’s “Private Practice” and NBC’s new “Southland.”

Looking at the show’s premiere numbers, however, the Eye noted that its adults 18-49 rating went up 29% (from 2.4 to 3.1), and it gained 1.6 million viewers (from 9.7 million to 11.3 million). Show also repped CBS.com’s biggest online premiere ever.

The nets are increasingly using Saturday to burn off remaining episodes of series with loyal, but small, followings. Earlier this spring, NBC made a similar move with “Kings,” opting to push that show to Saturday after it opened poorly on Sunday nights. Peacock later pulled “Kings” off, but plans to bring the show back to complete its run this summer.

Peacock did the same thing earlier this year with “Crusoe,” which also wound up on Saturday nights. And this summer, ABC is planning to air the remaining episodes of “Pushing Daisies,” “Eli Stone” and “Dirty Sexy Money” on the night.

CBS will fill the Thursday 10 p.m. slot with a repeat “Criminal Minds” this week, and next week with a repeat “CSI.” On Thursday, May 14, the Eye will air the season finale of “CSI: NY” in the slot.

The “CSI: NY” finale was originally set to air the following Wednesday, May 13, in its normal home. But the Eye will now air the two-hour “Criminal Minds” season finale from 9-11 p.m. on May 13.

“Minds” was originally set to run 8-10 p.m. that night – but with President Obama holding a press conference this Wednesday, CBS suddenly had to push Wednesday laffers “Old Christine” and “Gary Unmarried” a week.

Separately, Fox has downgraded the new animated laffer “Sit Down, Shut Up” to the Sunday 7 p.m. slot starting next week. That means “King of the Hill” has been pushed back to its traditional post-“The Simpsons” slot at 8:30 p.m. “American Dad” repeats, which had been airing at 7 p.m., will now air at 7:30.

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