During the pandemic, broadcast scheduling has become more complicated than ever as schedulers try to navigate COVID-19 upheaval while keeping audiences and advertisers happy in both the short and long term.
As CBS attempts to program May with fewer original episodes than planned due to the coronavirus-related production shutdown, the network is tapping sibling studio Paramount Pictures to help fill the holes in its schedule by bringing theatrical films back to broadcast TV in a major way.
Every Sunday in May, CBS will air an iconic Paramount film: Forrest Gump, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Mission: Impossible and Titanic.
“It’s a five-week programming event with epic films, iconic stars and brilliant stories that viewers love … and love to watch together,” said Noriko Kelley, evp of program planning and scheduling at CBS Entertainment, in a statement.
Here’s the schedule:
- May 3: Raiders of the Lost Ark
- May 10: Forrest Gump
- May 17: Mission: Impossible
- May 24: Titanic
- May 31: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
The move helps CBS fill the holes in its schedule left by several of its scripted series, which are delivering fewer episodes than planned because of the production shutdown. And going with Paramount allows CBS to stay in-house, now that both entities are part of the same company following December’s Viacom and CBS merger.
The network also hopes that the escapist entertainment will also appeal to advertisers.
Theatrical films used to be a broadcast staple, but in recent years those movies have migrated to cable networks like FX and TNT, as well as streaming services. Now, they will likely make their way back to broadcast as production shutdowns continue and networks find themselves in desperate need of content to air.
During the pandemic, Kelley has stuck to her same scheduling mantras, she recently told Adweek: “For us, the thing that has always worked is a strong, stable schedule. You’ve seen that prior to all this, and you’ll see that going through all of this.”
ABC is also looking to its Disney siblings for other programming options, including movies, as it looks to fill its own scheduling gaps.