‘Blue Bloods’ a quiet example of CBS’ strength

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Tom Selleck’s cop family drama “Blue Bloods” is hardly trendy TV, but last week was another illustration of its consistent value to CBS.

The Nielsen company said it was among the 10 most-watched programs. A week after CBS had the 10 most popular broadcast entrants on Nielsen’s weekly list — a first for any network since at least 2005 — CBS made it 11. Only AMC’s “The Walking Dead” interfered with the network’s dominance.

Selleck plays New York City police commissioner Frank Reagan in “Blue Bloods,” leading a family of law enforcers. The show’s average viewership in its sixth season is 13.1 million, down from a peak of 13.9 million in 2013-14. That’s considered a steady performance at a time people are watching less live television.

The success is also noteworthy since “Blue Bloods” airs on Fridays, a night that networks rarely air high-profile programming because they figure many people are out on the town. “Blue Bloods” is the most successful Friday night series since NBC’s “Law & Order” in 2002-03, Nielsen said.

Because it was doing well, CBS briefly experimented with “Blue Bloods” on the more lucrative Wednesday night schedule early in its run, said Kelly Kahl, the network’s chief scheduling executive. Since that made no appreciable difference in viewership, it was kept on Fridays.

“If you’ve got something that works, don’t fight it,” Kahl said.

“Blue Bloods” increases the size of its weekly audience by 34 per cent when time-delayed viewing is added in. From a percentage standpoint, only “Elementary” and “Criminal Minds” does better for CBS. “Blue Bloods” also does well in syndication on both the ION Television network and WGN America, and is aired extensively overseas.

Since CBS owns the series, that’s considerable money in the bank.

The Grammy Awards, with just under 25 million viewers, was the most popular show on the air last week, Nielsen said. NBC’s tribute to director James Burrows, which reunited the casts of many “must-see” TV comedies on Sunday, was a disappointment with fewer than 5.5 million viewers.

CBS easily won the week in prime time, averaging 10.7 million viewers. ABC had 5.2 million viewers, NBC had 5 million, Fox had 4 million, Univision had 2 million, the CW had 1.6 million, ION Television had 1.3 million and Telemundo had 1.1 million.

Fox News Channel had its fifth straight week as the most popular cable network in prime time, averaging 2.13 million viewers. USA had 2 million viewers, AMC had 1.86 million, HGTV had 1.69 million and TBS had 1.6 million.

NBC’s “Nightly News,” with 9.06 million viewers, and ABC’s “World News Tonight,” with 9.03 million, were neck-and-neck in the evening news ratings race. The “CBS Evening News” had 7.3 million viewers.

For the week of Feb. 15-22, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: Grammy Awards, CBS, 24.96 million viewers; “NCIS,” CBS, 17.34 million; “The Big Bang Theory,” CBS, 15.24 million; “The Walking Dead,” AMC, 13.48 million; “NCIS: New Orleans,” CBS, 13.42 million; “Blue Bloods,” CBS, 10.74 million; “Madam Secretary,” CBS, 10.73 million; “60 Minutes,” CBS, 10.67 million; “Life in Pieces,” CBS, 9.34 million; “Hawaii Five-0,” CBS, 8.86 million.


ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox is owned by 21st Century Fox. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks.