WHAT WORKED: CBS enters midseason riding high off its historic sweeps win, scoring its first November victory among young adults in recent memory.
Viacom co-chief operating officer Leslie Moonves called the victory a “watershed moment” in the Eye’s history, and it wasn’t an overstatement. Even Moonves didn’t think CBS could ever top the advertiser-friendly 18-49 demo when he first joined the network 10 years ago in 1995.
“Way back when I took this job, I said there was no way CBS will ever win in 18-49,” he said. “It was something we didn’t even dream about.”
Long dismissed as the geezer net, CBS didn’t lose those older viewers, it just gained a wider umbrella of younger ones. Network was powered by three hugely popular editions of “CSI,” as well as the growth of crime dramas such as “Without a Trace,” “Cold Case” and “NCIS.” Then there was the growth of sophomore laffer “Two and a Half Men” and the final fall for comedy staple “Everybody Loves Raymond.”
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But the Eye really became a factor in the adults 18-49 race thanks to its thriving reality franchises. “Survivor: Vanuatu” remained solid on Thursday nights, while “The Amazing Race” continues to become as big a hit among viewers as it has been with critics.
Net wound up winning November sweeps among adults 18-49 (4.5 rating), as well as adults 25-54 (5.5 rating) and total viewers (14.3 million). That marked the first time CBS had won all three contests since 1980.
WHAT DIDN’T: Besides “CSI: NY,” which was already part of a successful franchise, the net’s new dramas failed to deliver. “Clubhouse” was quickly exiled to Saturday night when it slumped on Tuesdays (making room for “Race”), while “Dr. Vegas” was disbarred from its Friday practice after the Rob Lowe-Joe Pantoliano drama couldn’t cure its ratings woes.
The jury’s also out on new comedies “Listen Up” and “Center of the Universe,” both of which performed well enough to earn additional episodes but didn’t wow reviewers.
WHAT’S NEXT: CBS will unfold two reality entries in the next few weeks. First up is “Wickedly Perfect,” which follows contestants as they compete to become the next Martha Stewart-like stylemaker. It will air Thursdays at 8 p.m. (the “Survivor” slot) beginning Jan. 6.
Two days later, Eye launches “The Will,” which revolves around a wealthy man and his plan to give a chunk of his estate to one of 10 possible heirs. Show, from exec producer Mike Fleiss, began airing Saturdays at 8 p.m. since Jan. 8.
On the scripted front, CBS is betting on the unusually monikered entry “Numb3rs,” which stars Rob Morrow and David Krumholtz, and follows an FBI agent who uses his math genius brother to help solve crimes. Paramount Network TV produces, along with exec producers Ridley and Tom Scott, Alex Gansa and Brooke Kennedy.
Other series on deck include the return of sitcom “Yes, Dear.”