Manic Monday: CBS Retools Lineup as Ratings Fall From Grace

CBS' "2 Broke Girls"

Struggles for "2 Broke Girls," lackluster comedy launches and a troubling start for "Hostages" leave next season's "How I Met Your Mother"-less block looking dreary.

This story first appeared in the Oct. 25 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

As recently as the 2011-12 TV season, CBS boasted one of the most enviable blocks in all of primetime with its Monday lineup.

Despite shuffling TV's top comedy, The Big Bang Theory, off to Thursdays in 2010, How I Met Your Mother and Two and a Half Men continued to grow, helping launch 2 Broke Girls as the biggest comedy debut in a decade with a 7.0 rating among adults 18-to-49 and 19.15 million total viewers. But on Oct. 14, CBS' Monday averaged a comparatively paltry 7 million viewers and a 2.0 rating in the demo, placing last among the Big Four by both measures.

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The previous Monday also placed last, prompting CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler to try to stop the bleeding by axing We Are Men after just two episodes and moving the now-struggling 2 Broke Girls -- it hit a series low Oct. 7 -- to 8:30. HIMYM now anchors Mondays at 8 p.m., offering the most robust lead, but it wraps this season, and there's no heir apparent.

NBC's The Voice has hit CBS' Monday hard, but even 10 p.m. drama Hostages, which doesn't face Voice and boasts a decent enough lead-in from solid freshman Mom, lured just 5.2 million viewers to its Oct. 14 episode. That's fewer than any Monday series on the Big Four, including the late We Are Men. Phase two of CBS' rehab plan comes Nov. 4 with the return of Mike & Molly at 9 p.m.

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Looking ahead, the network likely is betting that Thursdays could serve as an incubator for The Millers (already showing good weekly retention) or The Crazy Ones (fall's biggest comedy launch) to potentially fill HIMYM's hole. In the interim, there's always DVR. Seven days of playback saw CBS' premiere-week ratings rise the most of any net, 41 percent in the key demo.