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CBS: If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It

Network renews 18 series for 2012-13 season
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CBS viewers can expect to see a lot of familiar faces next fall, as the network has locked up all but four hours of its 2012-13 prime-time schedule.

The broadcaster announced today that it has renewed 18 series for next season, a sweeping effort that includes four comedies, nine dramas and three unscripted programs.

Among the series that will return in the fall are freshman comedy 2 Broke Girls and the veteran sitcoms How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory and Mike & Molly.

Now in its fifth season, The Big Bang Theory averages 14.1 million viewers per episode and a 4.6 in the adults 18-to-49 demo, per Nielsen live-plus-same-day ratings data.

Newcomer 2 Broke Girls is the season’s biggest rookie hit, averaging 11.9 million viewers and a 4.5 rating over the course of 18 episodes.

Girls has been a shoe-in for renewal since day one. The Sept. 19 series premiere delivered a staggering 19.4 million viewers and a 7.1 in the demo.

The only comedies not renewed were TV’s top-rated scripted series, Two and a Half Men; the David Spade-Patrick Warburton strip Rules of Engagement and the Thursday night strip ¡Rob!

Preliminary discussions on a 10th season of Men are underway between CBS and Warner Bros., but it’s hard to imagine that either side wants to torpedo the comedy. When first-run episodes and encores are factored in, Men is averaging 13.9 million viewers and a 4.7 in the demo.

The future of ¡Rob! is less assured. The Rob Schneider vehicle is averaging 11 million viewers and a 3.3 in the demo, and while that would be constitute a hit on any other network, ¡Rob! has significant retention issues. Nestled in the 8:30 p.m. time slot after The Big Bang Theory, ¡Rob! loses 28 percent of its lead-in.

As is the case with the comedies, CBS’ drama renewals were expected. The most-watched scripted series on TV, NCIS, is averaging 17.5 million viewers in its ninth season. Joining Mark Harmon and the MCRT for another year are NCIS: Los Angeles; Hawaii Five-0; Criminal Minds; CSI: Crime Scene Investigation; The Mentalist; The Good Wife; and Blue Bloods.

The second new series to earn another season is Person of Interest. J.J. Abrams’ paranoid procedural continues to build an audience in the Thursday 9 p.m. time slot. On March 8, the show delivered a series-high 15.7 million viewers and a 3.4 rating.

Also booked for another voyage are CBS’ core unscripted series. Mark Burnett’s Survivor was renewed for a 25th and 26th campaign, while The Amazing Race heads for a 21st run. Midseason favorite Undercover Boss will infiltrate CBS for the fourth time in 2013. 

“This large-scale renewal is testimony to the strength, stability and success of a deep and diverse roster of top-rated programming,” said Nina Tassler, president of CBS Entertainment. “It positions us for continued success next season and certainly creates an environment that will give our new shows the best possible chance to succeed.”

Not on the list are two freshman dramas and a handful of procedurals. After averaging 8.58 million viewers and a 1.3 rating, A Gifted Man is unlikely to return; the same can be said for the Tuesday drama Unforgettable (11.5 million/2.3).

CSI: Miami and CSI: New York were not listed among the series that earned a renewal, and neither show has much of a shot at a last-minute reprieve. Season eight of CSI: New York drew 9.39 million viewers and a 1.5 on Friday night, while CSI: Miami is averaging 9.46 million viewers and a 2.0 rating in its 10th season.

Robert De Niro’s NYPD procedural NYC 22 (formerly The Rookies and then The 2-2) will replace CSI: Miami in the CBS lineup on April 15.

Season to date, CBS trails only Fox in the 18-to-49 demo, averaging a 3.1 rating. The network is tops among total viewers (12.1 million) and adults ages 25 to 54 (4.1).

Last month, CBS Corp. CEO Les Moonves told investors that at least one of the network’s creaky cop dramas would be shuttered in order to carve out a free hour for new programming. “To use a sports term, we’re going to take a player off the field a year early rather than a year late,” Moonves said.

All told, CBS is expected to introduce just a handful of new series during its spring fling with advertisers, projects selected from a light load of 16 scripted pilots. Comedies and dramas are evenly split.

Hours before the renewals were announced, RBC Capital Markets analyst David Bank upgraded CBS Corp. to his top stock pick in the entertainment industry. Bank said he anticipates “27 percent earnings per share growth in 2012 and another 18 percent in 2013.”