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CBS may be losing a couple of its longest-running series in the not-too-distant future thanks to the looming conclusions of The Big Bang Theory and Criminal Minds, but the NCIS franchise isn't going anywhere for at least one more year. The network has officially announced that NCIS will be back for Season 17 in the 2019-2020 TV season. The mothership is returning; what about the two spinoffs?
Let's start with the good news about NCIS. In the current 16th season, NCIS is averaging 16 million viewers, and it ranks as the highest-rated drama and second-highest-rated show currently on the small screen. CBS shouldn't mind NCIS coming in second for the rankings of all shows; The Big Bang Theory holds the top spot.
NCIS has been a hit on more than just live broadcasts, which air on Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. ET. The show is a hit in syndication, and cable TV viewers can vouch for the fact that it's really not hard to find old episodes of NCIS. Previous seasons of NCIS can boast the status of most-watched off-network drama, beating its closing competitor by 27%. Law & Order: SVU (which recently made TV history with a renewal of its own) isn't the only big winner on cable TV!
Throw in the fact that NCIS is a hit on a global scale, on digital, and has been the top scripted drama series on television for eight of the last nine TV seasons, and it's no surprise that it scored a renewal order. Star Mark Harmon recently spoke optimistically about the future of the show, and I honestly think NCIS will run for at least as long as Harmon is willing to stay on board.
That's the good news on the NCIS front. What about the spinoffs?
NCIS: Los Angeles
NCIS: Los Angeles approaches cases very differently from the mothership, with a greater emphasis on characters and relationships as well as action. The combination has worked for viewers, even though NCIS: LA hasn't enjoyed the same competition-crushing numbers as NCIS.
Still, LA is currently in its tenth season, and it stands out from the rest for how it has managed to hold on to the core cast for almost the entire run. Ever since Eric Christian Olsen signed on as a regular in Season 2, NCIS: LA has been centered on the core four agents, with Hetty in the mix as well despite her absences in Season 10. The stakes feel high, the tragedies are heartbreaking, and happy moments like Kensi and Deeks' wedding are fantastic.
So, one would think that renewing NCIS: Los Angeles would be a no-brainer, but CBS has yet to announce if there's a future for NCIS' first spinoff. The latest episode had fans more worried than ever that NCIS: LA is wrapping up its stories to send off the characters at the end of Season 10, and I've had the question of its future on my mind ever since Kensi and Deeks started talking about kids. Could the end be nigh?
It's entirely possible, but fans shouldn't panic just yet. Neither NCIS: Los Angeles nor NCIS: New Orleans had been renewed yet at this time last year, so the good news may be forthcoming. Speaking of the NCIS action in the Big Easy, let's move on to...
NCIS: New Orleans
NCIS: New Orleans is currently airing its fifth season on CBS, and it has the benefit of running on the same night as NCIS, although there is an hour time slot between NCIS and NOLA. The ratings for NOLA aren't quite as high as NCIS in Live+Same day calculations, according to TV Series Finale, and it's only slightly behind NCIS: LA in the same calculations.
It holds a solid enough place in the CBS lineup, and its cast changes haven't hurt it. NOLA doesn't hold back from trying new things and carrying arcs over into subsequent episodes, and it has succeeded where the failed backdoor pilot for NCIS: Red did not. I doubt that Season 5 will be the end of NCIS: New Orleans, but fans everywhere will certainly feel a lot better if/when CBS goes ahead and confirms the renewal.
NOLA's fate seems far less in question than NCIS: LA, so those who consider LA to be their favorite may want to start crossing their fingers for more. Hey, maybe LA will be used to launch a JAG spinoff, what with those upcoming guest appearances! It would be awfully full circle for NCIS' first spinoff to launch a revival of the show that started the entire franchise.
I have to wonder how NCIS as a franchise could be changed if CBS shifted its lineup to air all three shows on the same night. The ratings for the Chicago franchise over on NBC have been killing ever since the network decided to air Chicago Med at 8 p.m. ET, Chicago Fire at 9 p.m. ET, and Chicago P.D. at 10 p.m. ET on Wednesday nights.
That said, there's a lot more crossover between the Chicago shows than the shows of the NCIS franchise, for obvious reasons. The three NCIS shows take place is very different places, whereas the Chicago first responders have reason to cross paths on a regular basis. The Arrow-verse over on The CW changes its schedule on a semi-regular basis, but Legends of Tomorrow at least usually shares a night with another superhero show.
The three NCIS shows sharing a night could be a huge draw, even if crossovers continue to be rare events. I still wouldn't hold my breath. The shows do fine in the ratings in their current slots, and the hour between NCIS and NCIS: New Orleans on Tuesday nights is a valuable launching point for other series. Why waste that hour by adding NCIS: Los Angeles when LA hasn't been struggling on Sunday nights?
We'll have to wait and see. NCIS airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET, NCIS: Los Angeles on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET, and NCIS: New Orleans on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET.