CBS to Add 'Big Bang Theory' Prequel, Seven Other Series to TV Lineup

CBS is adding eight new television series -- including a prequel to "The Big Bang Theory," its biggest comedy hit -- to its 2017-18 prime-time lineup.

Although CBS is wrapping up a season in which it will finish first in viewers for the ninth year in a row, the network still faces challenges. Excluding sports, the audience for its prime-time entertainment programming is down 8%, to 9.3 million, this season compared with last season, according to Nielsen.

In addition, the network's ratings among 18-49 year olds, which is coveted by advertisers, was off 16%, and it trails both Comcast Corp.'s NBC and Walt Disney Co.'s ABC in that category.

CBS Corp. Chief Executive Leslie Moonves said Wednesday, in advance of the network's upfront presentation to unveil the new lineup to advertisers, that the network continues to have the most-watched comedy in "The Big Bang Theory" and most-watched drama in "NCIS." The broadcaster also had the most popular new comedy in "Kevin Can Wait" and drama in "Bull," Mr. Moonves said.

"A pretty good statistic," he said.

Both CBS's late-night show, "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," and its morning news program, "CBS This Morning," are enjoying improved ratings thanks to increased interest in political news and Mr. Colbert's searing critiques of U.S. President Donald Trump. Those shows will help the network take a bigger share of advertising dollars, Mr. Moonves said.

"There is a lot more demand for Colbert and 'CBS This Morning' than there ever has been before," Mr. Moonves said. Mr. Colbert in particular "has been killing it night after night," the CBS chief executive said. In recent months, "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" has surpassed NBC's "Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon" in viewers, although the latter is still clinging to its lead in the 18-49 demographic.

In the fall, CBS will debut three comedies and three dramas. The network's biggest bet is "Young Sheldon," about the childhood Sheldon Cooper, one of the lead characters on "The Big Bang Theory."

Other comedies include "9JKL," which stars Mark Feuerstein as an actor who returns to New York and ends up living on the same floor of an apartment building with his parents, played by Linda Lavin and Elliott Gould. The third comedy is "Me, Myself & I," which tells the story of one man as a teen, an adult and a senior citizen and stars Bobby Moynihan, of NBC's "Saturday Night Live," and John Larroquette.

CBS is sticking with its tried-and-true action formula for two of its three new dramas. "SEAL Team" is about the elite U.S. Navy SEAL unit and "S.W.A.T." -- inspired by the 1970s series of the same name -- is about the Los Angeles Police Department's famed tactical unit. The third drama, "Wisdom of the Crowd," stars Jeremy Piven as a tech innovator who creates a crowdsourcing app to help solve crimes.

The network has an additional new drama and comedy for spring and is also bringing back 23 shows, including the political drama "Madam Secretary" and the comedy "Superior Donuts."

Write to Joe Flint at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 17, 2017 12:50 ET (16:50 GMT)