THR’s Tim Goodman writes that CBS has so many hits, that it has to put Rules of Engagement on Saturday in its fall 2011 schedule.  That headline is nonsense, but I’m no stranger to nonsensical headlines.  But I’m not letting Goodman off the hook just because he writes:

Now, the cynical among you will no doubt suggest that Rules of Engagement might have been held until midseason or otherwise forgotten as usual had it not been so close to its syndication possibilities. And you may be right. But the motives are not important.

Um…ok, I’m listening.

CBS is trying to breathe life into Saturday nights with fresh episodes, not reruns.

Ok, I’m done listening now.

If by breathing life into Saturday with fresh episodes that CBS is prepared to have rate lower than the new episodes of Cops it will air against, ok. But what kind of life’s breath is that?  Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to see the move and I consider the glass way more than half full for CBS.

But Rules isn’t moving to Saturdays because CBS has too many hits, and it’s certainly not on Saturdays because CBS is trying to breathe life into the night. It’s moving to Saturdays because it makes financial sense for CBS in the long run due to syndication, even if it rates lower than Cops in the short term.  That’s not cynicism, and there’s nothing wrong with CBS’s approach.

If Rules somehow manages to actually breathe life into Saturdays, that’s just the gravy train of  unexpected upside. But if it pulls a non life-breathing 1.2 adults 18-49 rating and loses to Cops and CBS is still happy, what’s wrong with that? Is it cynical to think that’s a reasonable approach?

In the morning conference call when someone asked what the ratings expectations for Rules on Saturday, to paraphrase CBS’s chief scheduler Kelly Kahl: “Nothing unrealistic. It’s on Saturdays.”

Posted by:TV By The Numbers

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