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Why CBS programmers might save The New Adventures of Old Christine

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Written By

February 3rd, 2009

OLD CHRISTINE

Bill poses the question of what possible reasons could CBS programmers come up with to save The New Adventures of Old Christine? Surrounded by some preposterous (but amusing) options was the right answer, a sweetheart deal from Warner Brothers which produces the show. The 'Til Death scenario.

Warner Bros simply makes The New Adventures of Old Christine so cheap, CBS can't say no. WB can also add extra incentive by dropping the lawsuit regarding Two and a Half Men. I viewed that lawsuit as a negotiation ploy for something other than actually hoping CBS was going to fork over $40 million anyway.

If something like that happens, it would be very easy for CBS to go back to an Old Christine/Rules of Engagement combo for the Monday 9:30p slot, regardless of the fate of the second CBS comedy block on Wednesday at 8pm.

Bill has chastised me for chastising him, but in October (and perhaps November, December, and even January) I didn't chastise Bill for thinking that Old Christine's numbers stunk, they definitely stunk! I chastised him for looking at it in a vacuum. I don't blame him though because it seems like over 90% of the time, looking at the 18-49 season averages for shows in a vacuum is still a very effective means of predicting outcomes.

I said in October and still say that CBS is probably unhappier with the performance of Worst Week given the (squandered) opportunity cost on Mondays at 9:30pm. That point will likely be hammered home a bit more once Rules of Engagement returns. But the 9:30pm Monday slot following Two and a Half Men is one of those places where looking at the numbers in a vacuum doesn't work.

Looking at the numbers in a vacuum at 8pm on Wednesday probably does work. And unless WB really does make CBS an offer it can't refuse, the prospects for Old Christine are grim indeed, at least on CBS. Last year rumors swirled around that ABC wanted Old Christine if CBS didn't, but for all I know Warner Bros was behind those rumors.

I don't put the chances of WB making CBS a sweetheart deal anywhere near zero, but I don't rate them as excellent either. I want to push and say it's 50-50, but the chances of it are probably worse than that. One problem is the economy. In a robust economy I can see WB betting on the come and taking it on the chin a bit now in the hopes of syndication down the road. But in a bad economy, which we are definitely in, cash is usually king.

Anyway, we have a lot more data in February than we had in October. Old Christine's numbers still stink. If the numbers stunk when it was going up against Pushing Daisies, Knight Rider and Bones, you didn't need to do any analysis to figure it wasn't going to get any better when Bones was swapped out for American Idol. Though at some point in the near future that will switch again, this time to Lie To Me.

CBS has a big decision on its hands though. Given the lack of success with the 8pm comedy block with Old Christine and Gary Unmarried, does it stick with it? Even if it has sworn an oath to give it a try for three years, the leash on the current shows has to be very short. However, I can't fault CBS for being very enamored with wanting an additional comedy block rather than filling the hour with another procedural. Last week, a repeat of The Big Bang Theory outperformed a new episode of Eleventh Hour among 18-49 year olds.

Even if CBS is committed to the 8pm block, the question is, should it be committed to the current shows in that block? The answer seems like it should be no. But if it is committed to the block it raises some interesting choices for CBS where it would have to struggle with scenarios like, "Geez, should we screw with the good thing we have going on Monday nights and move either The Big Bang Theory or How I Met Your Mother to Wednesday at 8pm next fall to anchor Wednesdays?"

If CBS is committed to the Wednesday comedy block, barring a miracle, CBS will have to struggle with such decisions. And if Old Christine and Gary Unmarried rise to 9M-10M viewers and 3.0+ in the demos before the season ends, even the Pope would proclaim that a miracle. There's a better chance of Old Christine sticking around than that happening.

Attractive pricing of Old Christine could potentially save the show, but doesn't solve the dilemma of Wednesday nights, and that's true whether you look at Old Christine's numbers in a vacuum or examine it from every possible, plausible or even far-fetched scenario. If committed to a Wednesday comedy block, the question is: what is the best way to anchor the Wednesday 8pm comedy block?

Some will disagree, but I don't think we need more data to arrive at the conclusion that the answer to that question is not The New Adventures of Old Christine.

 
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