The lights are turning on again in Hollywood.
CBS announced on Monday that new episodes of scripted series would return in mid-February, making it the first network to lay out scheduling plans since a tentative agreement was reached last week to end the longest labor crisis in Hollywood in decades.
The network will use its broadcast of the Super Bowl on Feb. 11 to launch its new lineup, with a new series “Tracker,” starring the “This Is Us” actor Justin Hartley, immediately following the conclusion of the game’s trophy celebration.
Several returning series, including “Young Sheldon”; “NCIS”; “Ghosts”; the Tom Selleck drama “Blue Bloods”; and “FBI” will premiere later that week.
The premieres will arrive about five months later than usual. Because of dual screenwriter and actor strikes, Hollywood scripted production has been severely disrupted since May, and effectively shut down since July. The writers reached a deal with the studios first, in late September, allowing writers rooms to open up again and new episodes of late night shows like “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” to air. The actors reached a tentative agreement last week, which will allow cameras to begin rolling soon.
The CBS prime-time February lineup will be quite a departure from the strike-induced schedules the networks have been airing since September. The schedules have been heavy on reality series, repeats, international acquisitions and game shows. CBS, for instance, relied on programs like 90-minute editions of “Survivor” and “The Amazing Race,” repeats of the popular cable series “Yellowstone,” and a prime-time edition of “The Price Is Right.”
Network television executives had privately fretted about a ratings collapse without the vital aid of scripted programming. But the damage, at least so far, has been less significant than some feared. Prime-time network viewership since September is down 11 percent compared with the same period last year, and ratings among adults younger than 50, the demographic most important to advertisers, has declined 6 percent, according to the ratings agency Nielsen.
CBS, however, has suffered the most without its stable of scripted programming. Its viewership averages are down more than 30 percent since mid-September, according to Nielsen.
Over the last year or two, network executives have been more conscious about programming specifically to people older than 60, the one constituency that has not abandoned them in favor of streaming entertainment. Enter strike-induced lineups that include decades-old game shows, as well as shows like ABC’s “The Golden Bachelor.”
ABC, Fox and NBC are expected to announce their winter lineups, packed with scripted programming, in the coming days.
The winter series will have fewer episodes than usual, because of the late start date. New seasons of all the CBS scripted series will run 10 to 13 episodes, and will conclude, as usual, in May. Many CBS’s series, including “Young Sheldon” and “FBI,” traditionally have more than 20 episodes per season.
CBS said that two new shows that were expected to premiere in the 2023-24 television season — “Matlock,” a revival of the classic series starring Kathy Bates, and “Poppa’s House,” a comedy starring Damon Wayans and Damon Wayans Jr. — would be pushed to the 2024-25 season instead.