Will 'CSI: Cyber' Be the End of the 'CSI' Franchise?

Exec producer Anthony Zuiker talks with THR about the future of the franchise after the last incarnation was pulled from the network's schedule.
 Richard Cartwright/CBS

Could the CSI franchise end this year with CSI: Cyber?

When CBS announced its midseason schedule on Friday, CSI: Cyber, the last remaining series in the global franchise, lost its time slot. The sophomore drama will segue from its Sunday at 10 p.m. slot in March and make way for Elementary, which will move from Thursdays after the network slotted rookie Rush Hour. CBS will test CSI: Cyber for two weeks on Wednesdays (March 2 and 9) before the Ted Danson-Patricia Arquette starrer vanishes from the schedule. A return date or time slot for the remaining CSI: Cyber episodes have not yet been determined.

So is this the end of CSI, the former most-watched show across the globe?

"I don't think so," exec producer and CSI: Crime Scene Investigator creator Anthony Zuiker told The Hollywood Reporter following his appearance Saturday at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour, where he participated in a special Hulu nostalgia panel. "We're going to go ahead and do 22 [episodes] as ordered, and then you sit tight in May and see how the schedule shuffles around and you hope to continue. We have the biggest stars in television in terms of Ted Danson, Patricia Arquette and James Van Der Beek; it's an amazing franchise and a very solid show. Because the future of crime is cyber, there's no reason why it shouldn't continue."

CSI: Cyber is the third spinoff from the flagship series. The procedural, which is produced by CBS' studio counterpart, has not performed in the way its predecessors (CSI: Miami and CSI: NY) have. But given viewer erosion, its season-one 2.5 rating among adults 18-49 is considered respectable given the lackluster performance of other broadcast spinoffs.

Zuiker told reporters during Hulu's nostalgia panel that procedurals are cyclical. "At the time, in the year 2000, it made sense to do procedural shows," he said. "It was a good business model and it has been a good model. Nowadays, networks may pull back on procedurals because there are options to binge."

During Saturday's panel, Zuiker was joined by Darren Star (Younger, Beverly Hills, 90210) and Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars, iZombie) to discuss how streaming services like Hulu and Netflix have helped new generations of viewers to find decades-old series as nostalgia continues to be in demand.

As for a potential fourth CSI spinoff, Zuiker told THR he's not currently looking at doing anything else in the franchise, though he is open to doing something "if the right idea presents itself and makes sense with where we are."

He added: "For right now, our focus is on CSI: Cyber."

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