COVID-19 has forced CBS to reduce the episode count for virtually all its scripted shows.
The network has cut down series orders for more than half a dozen shows from the usual 22 episodes to between 16 and 18, Variety has confirmed.
Sources say that showrunners were told the number of episodes in their new season was in flux when CBS set its tentative schedule several months ago. All the shows which have been reduced thus far, among them all three “NCIS” series and “Blue Bloods,” are produced in-house by CBS Studios.
The pandemic caused every network, not just CBS, to shift it schedule multiple times amid production chaos. With the later production start dates and premieres, CBS is hoping that these reduced series orders will carry them through May and the end of the traditional broadcast season. Other networks are likely being forced to make a similar decision regarding the length of their shows this season, due to a combination of scheduling issues and spiraling production costs as a result of the pandemic.
CBS is currently in talks with the outside studios which produced its shows to make the same episode count reductions. Shows such as “Mom,” “Young Sheldon” and the “FBI” franchise could well end up in the same range of roughly 16 to 18 episodes, per sources close to the network.
Here’s what the episode count for CBS studios series now looks like below:
Blue Bloods (16)
Magnum P.I. (16)
The Neighborhood (18)
NCIS: Los Angeles (18)
NCIS: New Orleans (16)
SEAL Team (16)
The Unicorn (13) (Which represents no change from the original 13-episode order issued for season 2)