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'Two and a Half Men' Will Return With Kutcher, But Will Viewers?

Charlie Shen, Ashton Kutcher
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Kutcher is well liked, but shows often struggle after a star's departure, say analysts.

The news that Ashton Kutcher will replace Charlie Sheen on Two and a Half Men has industry analysts scrambling to predict what this means for the show and its network, CBS.

"He's a younger, known entity with a big following," Andy Donchin, a broadcast buyer at Aegis Group PLC's Carat told The Wall Street Journal. "It will hopefully keep CBS's Monday night pretty strong."

Kutcher has been a force on Twitter for years, and was named one of Time magazine’s most influential people of 2010. His likability ratings far outstrip Sheen’s, too. According to Davie-Brown Entertainment, which tracks celebrity likability, 80 percent of U.S. consumers like Kutcher at least somewhat, while 40 percent say the same of Sheen.

But not all analysts agree this will translate into the type of top ratings the show is used to. This season, new episodes of Two and a Half Men have attracted an average of 13.3 million viewers, making it the most-watched comedy on television.

"Traditionally shows don't do well when the main star leaves—very infrequently do they regain their footing and move on,” Lyle Schwartz of the media buying organization GroupM told The Journal.

CBS has retained its spot as the number one network in part because of the series, and the financial returns have been great. This season, episodes of Two and a Half Men brought in around $200,000 for a thirty seconds spot, according a Nielsen Co. estimate.

Sheen said Friday that although Kutcher is a “brilliant comedic performer,” the show’s ratings would tank with him as the star.

Kutcher released a statement the same day.

"I can't replace Charlie Sheen but I'm going to work my ass off to entertain the hell out of people!" he said.

Production of Two and a Half Men is set to resume this summer, with Kutcher reportedly being paid $1 million per episode.