As CBS looks ahead to midseason (with the release of its winter game plan), it is currently home to three of the four most-watched freshman series (and four out of the Top 5).
With delayed playback factored in, NCIS: Hawai’i leads this fall’s freshman class with 8.3 million total viewers, followed by FBI: International‘s 8.2 mil. Trailing NBC’s La Brea, Ghosts lands at No. 4 with 7.8 mil, while CSI: Vegas (7.1 mil) rounds out the Top 5.
“That’s a heck of a good start in any year,” CBS Entertainment president Kelly Kahl told TVLine, “and especially this year, with [full fall schedules] kind of coming back” following a pandemic-altered 2020-21 TV season.
Arguably the biggest feather in CBS’ cap is Ghosts, which stands as the fall’s most watched new comedy and the No. 2-rated freshman series overall (tied with FBI: International). Not only has Ghosts‘ “live” audience been trending up in recent weeks, but it is tacking on a considerable 2.4 million viewers with delayed playback.
Observing the comedy’s ratings success and critical acclaim “is quite gratifying,” Kahl tells us. “It’s always fun when you can see these shows that are building a little every week, you see the word-of-mouth, you see the delayed viewing…. I mean, this show has delayed viewing more like a drama than a comedy.”
The single-camera freshman is also noteworthy since it was “a little outside the box for us, not a typical sitcom. It validates the idea that we can color outside the lines a bit,” Kahl notes. “I give a lot of credit to the producers and cast — it’s not easy redeveloping another version of a show, but they’ve done an amazing job making it their own. I have incredible respect for the BBC version, and [Ghosts EPs Joe] and [Joe] Wiseman have done an incredible job, along with the cast.”
Speaking to CBS’ larger success with four out the five most-watched freshman shows, Kahl says, “It’s been great to see audiences embrace this new lineup. I think they were ready” following a TV season that looked quite different because of pandemic-related shutdowns. “We’re not done with COVID, but I do think audiences wanted to see full network lineups.”
Tried-and-true NCIS, meanwhile, as usual stands atop all comers as the fall’s most watched scripted show, drawing nearly 12 million viewers in Live+7 — and that was while navigating both its first-ever time slot change and the exit of Mark Harmon’s Gibbs/introduction of Gary Cole’s Special Agent Alden Parker.
A previous version of this story included a quote that was not on the record.