CBS hopes viewers are ready for some football and drama this fall

"Madam Secretary," a new CBS drama, stars Tea Leoni.
“Madam Secretary,” a new CBS drama, stars Tea Leoni.
(Craig Blankenhorn / CBS)

CBS is betting on football and five new dramas to lift its ratings this fall.

The network, which saw its audience decline by 8% this season, has overhauled much of its prime-time lineup.

Only two shows introduced this season — comedies “Mom” and “The Millers” — will make it to a sophomore year. Programs that got the hook include the Robin Williams comedy “The Crazy Ones” and dramas “Hostages” and “Intelligence.”

Also not on the network’s new schedule is the long-running drama “The Mentalist” and the sitcom “Mike and Molly.” However, both are expected to return later next season.


Despite the declining ratings and increased competition from an improved NBC, CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves was optimistic about his network and the television industry in general.

“This is really a great time to be in the television business,” said Moonves, speaking at a Wednesday morning press briefing before the network’s upfront presentation to advertisers at Carnegie Hall. Noting that Amazon, Netflix and others are increasing their presence in original programming, Moonves said, it is good for everyone.

“Welcome to the game,” he said.

CBS’ big bet is Thursday night football. The network shelled out about $275 million for a one-year deal to broadcast eight games in September and October. The move should boost CBS’ audience and give it a strong platform to promote other nights.

“Rolling thunder” is how CBS scheduling chief Kelly Kahl described the strategy of acquiring football.

Because of football, the hit sitcom “The Big Bang Theory” will start the season on Monday at 8 p.m. before moving back to its Thursday home at the end of October.

CBS said it will premiere five new dramas this fall including “Madam Secretary” starring Tea Leoni as U.S. secretary of State. That show has been scheduled for Sundays at 8 p.m. as a lead-in to the critical darling “The Good Wife.”

Other new dramas include the breezy “Scorpion,” about tech nerds who work at the Department of Homeland Security, and “Stalker,” about detectives who specialize in apprehending same. “It should scare the bejesus out of all of us,” CBS Entertainment Chairman Nina Tassler said.


“Scorpion” is scheduled for Mondays at 9 p.m. and “Stalker” has been slotted for Wednesday at 10 p.m.

The network’s other two new dramas are spinoffs of existing series. On Tuesday at 9 p.m., CBS will debut “NCIS New Orleans,” the third incarnation of that military legal drama. “CSI” will also get another spinoff with “CSI Cyber,” which is scheduled for Sunday night.

The only new comedy CBS is trying for the fall is “The McCarthys,” about a close-knit Irish Catholic family in Boston. Later in the season it will premiere a remake of “The Odd Couple” starring Matthew Perry.

CBS also said “Two and a Half Men” will end its run after its upcoming 12th season. “Chuck Lorre is creating a season-long event,” Tassler said. “Chuck is very psyched about this. He’s got some great ideas and very big surprises.”


In its heyday, the comedy drew blockbuster numbers — back when Charlie Sheen was a key player in the sitcom. The long-in-the-tooth series, despite losing steam, is still a strong performer. Its most recent season averaged 9.1 million total viewers, with 2.3 million adults under 50.

“Two and a Half Men’s” end gives Lorre a bit of respite. The TV hit maker has three other series on the network: ratings juggernaut “The Big Bang Theory,” “Mike and Molly” and recent entry “Mom.”

Not on the fall schedule was a highly anticipated spinoff of the sitcom “How I Met Your Mother.” CBS said it was not happy with the pilot and the studio — 20th Century Fox Television — was not interested in a do-over.

Times staff writer Yvonne Villarreal contributed to this report.