A major network is catching Saturday night ratings fever once again. With broadcasters declining in the ratings, CBS is trying a schedule tactic that hasn’t been attempted in years: airing an original drama series on Saturday nights.
CBS is premiering its Frank Spotnitz-produced hostage series Ransom on Sunday, Jan, 1 after a double-header football game to give the show’s premiere a major push. But after that, Ransom will shift to its regular time period, Saturdays at 8 p.m., which is considered a viewership dead zone.
Broadcast networks used to air original programming on Saturdays just like any other night of the week. But in the late 1990s the evening began to gradually die off as cable networks began counter-programming the evening (such as HBO premiering new movies on the night). By the mid-2000s, Saturdays became a dead zone of repeats, movies, sporting events and COPS. Yet in the UK, Saturdays are often TV’s highest-rated night.
Ransom stars Luke Roberts and Sarah Greene and is crime drama about a world-renowned crisis and hostage negotiator whose team is brought in to resolve the most difficult kidnap and ransom cases.
Also changing on the schedule: Freshman medical drama Pure Genius looks like it’s probably going to have a short life; it’s being replaced on the schedule by new drama Training Day starting Feb. 2 after airing 13 episodes on Thursdays. CBS notes the show isn’t canceled however, and could still return next year.
In addition, new drama Doubt will take over for Code Black on Wednesdays starting Feb. 15 after its 16 episodes have aired, while the return of The Amazing Race will replace MacGyver on Fridays starting April 21 after its full season of 22 episodes have aired.
The premiere dates for upcoming midseason shows Superior Donuts and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders will be announced at a later time. Donuts is expected to likely take the place of Odd Couple after its 13 episodes air, which is currently struggling on Monday nights and is also looking doubtful to continue.
Here’s a rundown of CBS’s Winter and Spring schedule changes so far: