After taking a brief hiatus through the latter part of February, CBS' Friday-night dramas returned to primetime during the first week of March, and fans were happy to get back to enjoying new episodes of Blue Bloods, Magnum P.I. and MacGyver. But anybody expecting to get fresh eps for two weeks in a row is going to be disappointed, as the network decided to pull all three series' installments from airing on March 12. Why? Mainly so CBS can continue celebrating the ratings success of Oprah Winfrey's headline-making (and Twitter-exploding) interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.
More specifically, CBS is choosing to preempt its regular Friday-night plans in order to re-air Oprah with Meghan and Harry: A CBS Primetime Special, which first made a huge splash with viewers on Sunday evening. (Well, it technically started making waves even before that, as clips and quotes started to run around the internet before the weekend hit.) The anticipation going into it was about as palpable as it gets for primetime network interviews, and it definitely showed in the ratings stats, which are almost definitely what inspired CBS to make this royally impulsive scheduling call.
The Meghan Markle and Prince Harry interview was watched by around 17.8 million people on Sunday night, with delayed stats not yet available. That is a massive audience for any network on a Sunday night, and CBS usually takes that top viewership spot anyway with 60 Minutes, so being able to go above and beyond was clearly a boon to all involved. At this point, according to Deadline, the special has been watched by over 49.1 million people around the world, with the UK premiere on Monday also drawing a huge crowd.
Of course, CBS also tends to win out on Friday nights as well, with Tom Selleck and the Blue Bloods cast pulling in more than 6 million viewers a week for new episodes. It'll be interesting to see if the Oprah Winfrey special's second airing will provide comparable totals, especially since it wasn't available to stream via ViacomCBS' online offerings such as Paramount+, though that was initially the plan.
Of course, for all the reasons that CBS execs might feel justified for swapping out its Friday primetime fare, fans of Blue Bloods, Magnum P.I. and MacGyver probably have different feelings. It's definitely annoying to only get one new episode of a TV show in between weeks of repeats and other preemption-fueled programming. It's not currently clear when the three dramas will return to CBS' lineup, either. With NCAA basketball's March Madness and Final Four games taking over the network for the latter part of the month, it looks like March 19's primetime slots are already filled.
What say ye, readers? Is it a good move for CBS to have doubled-down on Oprah Winfrey's interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, or should it have just slotted the special into its Saturday night schedule as not to mess with Blue Bloods and the other Friday night dramas?