NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- CBS will add only three new dramas and one new comedy to its 2009-2010 lineup, while adding "Medium," a show it has produced for the past few seasons for rival NBC, to its Friday-night lineup. Meanwhile, the CW will pick up three new dramas, according to a person familiar with the situation.
CBS has the most stable position of any broadcast network in this year's upfront, having grown ratings in all categories year over year, while competitors have suffered erosion. With those ratings losses, and NBC's decision to run a Jay Leno show five nights a week at 10 p.m., the Tiffany Network could steal market share, even as the overall dollar volume in this year's upfront declines.
CBS "appears to be in the strongest position due to its outperformance on the ratings front," wrote Merrill Lynch entertainment analyst Jessica Reif Cohen in a Wednesday research note. "However, even with the stability of CBS's schedule, we anticipate that all of the major broadcast networks will receive fewer upfront commitments. We also note that CBS will benefit from the Super Bowl rights in 2010."
In addition to moving "The Mentalist," perhaps the only solid freshman hit from this season, to 10 p.m. on Thursdays, CBS said it would launch a new comedy, "Accidentally on Purpose," in its Monday-night comedy block; "NCIS: Los Angeles," a spinoff of "NCIS," on Tuesdays; and "The Good Wife," a drama featuring Juliana Margulies, on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. "Three Rivers," a drama about a transplant-surgery team, will make its debut on Sunday nights at 9 p.m. "Without a Trace," "Worst Week" and "The Unit" are among the programs that will not return to the air, while "Rules of Engagement" will stick around as a potential midseason replacement, and "Flashpoint" will continue to be produced for later use.
NBC's decision to replace scripted dramas at 10 p.m. with Jay Leno marks a "real sea change," said Leslie Moonves, president-CEO of CBS Corp., at a press conference this morning, and CBS views the shift as an opportunity to drive share. No matter how well Mr. Leno does, Mr. Moonves said, "there's going to be more share at 10 o'clock for the people who put on great dramas."
Indeed, said Kelly Kahl, senior exec VP-CBS Primetime, some of CBS's moves for the new season were driven by the new Leno show. "We saw opportunity at 10 o'clock, and we're going to try to take advantage of that."
The pickup of "Medium" illustrates some of the economic pressures behind this year's network schedules. CBS produces "Medium," which has usually run in the second half of the season on NBC. To allow it to go off the air could hurt the program's after-market possibilities on DVD and in syndication. By keeping it on the air -- and giving it a broadcast-network platform for first-run airings -- CBS gives the show publicity and buzz and additional episodes for later use and monetization. Such concerns have not been at play as strongly in years past, but as media companies face a tougher economy and dwindling ad revenue, they are likely to weigh more heavily on decision making.
For midseason, CBS has ordered "Miami Trauma," a medical drama from "CSI" producer Jerry Bruckheimer; "The Bridge," a drama about a cop who becomes head of his police union; and two reality series, "Arranged Marriage," which is pretty much what it sounds like, and "Undercover Boss," which places high-level corporate executives among the rank and file.
Meanwhile, the CW network is expected to pick up three new shows, though a rumored spinoff of its flagship "Gossip Girl" is not among them.
The network is expected to announce tomorrow morning that it will launch a new version of the old Fox soap "Melrose Place." "Melrose" served as a companion piece to "Beverly Hills, 90210," of which CW runs a retooled version.
CW is also expected to launch "The Beautiful Life," a drama about models from Ashton Kutcher, and "The Vampire Diaries," a drama that seems to play upon recent fan interest in movies such as "Twilight" and the HBO drama "True Blood." The CW has already said it will bring back "America's Next Top Model," "Gossip Girl," "One Tree Hill," "Smallville," "Supernatural" and "90210."