CBS Will Use The Big Bang Theory to Launch Its Big Bang Prequel This Fall

Les Moonves says his network, not NBC, is 'Must-See TV'

Young Sheldon, featuring a 9-year-old version of Jim Parsons' Big Bang character, will airs Thursdays at 8:30 p.m.
Robert Voets/CBS

With TV’s No. 1 broadcast series, The Big Bang Theory, secured for two more seasons—and a Big Bang prequel on the way this fall—CBS Corp. chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves said that his network, not NBC, is the true home of Must-See TV.

Moonves spoke to TV reporters this morning as CBS unveiled its new fall schedule ahead of this afternoon’s upfront presentation at Carnegie Hall.

After winning last season in the 18-49 demo thanks to the Super Bowl, the network slipped to third place this year, behind NBC and Fox, but it continues to dominate in total viewers, where it has finished No. 1 for nine consecutive years and 14 of the past 15 years.

“We are Must-See TV. You cannot live without the shows we have,” said Moonves, referencing NBC’s decision to resurrect its Thursday night moniker. Kelly Kahl, senior evp of CBS Primetime, noted that the NCIS franchise has more viewers than any Shonda Rhimes-produced show on ABC or the Chicago franchise drama on NBC.

Moonves was pinch-hitting for CBS Entertainment president Glenn Geller, who is on medical leave through the end of May after suffering a mild heart attack and “is doing better,” according to Moonves. In his absence during development season, “our development people really stepped up to the plate.”

While CBS is airing six new shows this fall, the most important piece of its fall schedule is the return of The Big Bang Theory, after CBS secured a two-year renewal this spring. Moonves said he personally met with the Big Bang cast during negotiations. “We hope it goes on beyond that, I can’t make any promises,” he said. “In my book, Everybody Loves Raymond closed down three years too early. You want to leave on top, but you don’t want to leave money on the table”

The Big Bang Theory is so popular, “even its repeats outdraw any comedy on TV,” said Kelly Kahl. That’s why CBS will use the show to launch a pair of comedies: its Big Bang prequel, Young Sheldon, and 9JKL.

When Big Bang shifts to Mondays at the beginning of the season during Thursday Night Football, it will lead into 9JKL, a family comedy from and starring Mark Feuerstein, based on his experience filming USA’s Royal Pains while living in an apartment between his parents and his brother’s family. The show “has a Raymond feel to it,” said Kahl.

Kevin Can Wait will air at 9 p.m., followed by Me, Myself and I, which is “a very unique property,” said Kahl. It looks at different points of one man’s life during a 50-year span, with both Bobby Moynihan and John Larroquette playing him.

After NFL football, Kevin Can Wait will return to Mondays at 8 p.m., where “it established a really nice beachhead for us last year,” said Kahl. At that point, Me, Myself & I will air at 9 p.m., followed by Superior Donuts.

CBS’s Tuesday lineup of NCIS, Bull and NCIS: New Orleans, which Kahl called “TV’s most-watched night,” won’t change. Noting that NBC, ABC and Fox have all programmed sitcoms that night at 9 p.m., Kahl said, “if you think there’s gridlock in Washington, check out all the comedies at 9.”

On Wednesdays, CBS is shifting Criminal Minds, which aired at 9 p.m. for 12 years, back to 10, where it “will give us stability there.” In its place is Seal Team, a new drama starring David Boreanaz, about the most elite Navy Seal team. Kahl said it’s a “high-octane, good, natural bridge between the two shows.”

After five weeks of Thursday Night Football, which will feature “a better lineup of games this year,” said Kahl, the network will return The Big Bang Theory to 8 p.m., followed by Young Sheldon, which was “the obvious choice” to follow it. The new series will focus on Sheldon childhood (played by Jim Parsons in Big Bang), when he started high school in Texas as a 9-year-old.

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