Dick Wolf Explains The Benefits Of CBS Airing All Three FBI Shows In One Night

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(Image credit: CBS)

CBS is amping up the crime-fighting action this fall with FBI Season 4, FBI: Most Wanted, and the highly anticipated series premiere of FBI: International. In fact, the network is giving the new show a big push by establishing a full night of storytelling, with all three shows airing in one big FBI block on Tuesday nights. Executive producer Dick Wolf, who obviously knows what it takes to craft a hit TV show, recently weighed in on the benefit of adding International to Tuesdays to join FBI and Most Wanted.

All three FBI shows will hit the airwaves for the 2021-2022 TV season with a big three-part crossover on Tuesday, September 21 starting at 8 p.m. ET and running through to 11 p.m. ET on CBS. While TV viewers might not always tend to check out one show and then stay parked on one network for a full night of primetime, Dick Wolf has some big reasons to believe that the FBI block has what it takes to hold onto an audience.

Speaking with CinemaBlend and other outlets at CBS' TCA Summer Press Tour, Dick Wolf shared the advantages that he anticipates for all three shows airing on one night:

I don't know if I'm supposed to do this, but there is another group of three shows on another network… We know this works, that there are certain dynamics that are just true. When you stack these shows, you know, you can look at research that tells you that everybody talks about binges, and people bingeing series. And watching them all on three nights. These are streaming series where the average order is eight [episodes]. And you can get through a whole bunch of episodes, but the average binge is three hours. That seems to be where people are most comfortable if they're going to sit down and watch something.

Although Dick Wolf didn't name names, his One Chicago block over on NBC – comprised of Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, and Chicago P.D. – has been a big hit on Wednesdays, and there were plans for something similar for Law & Order Thursdays before a third spinoff was scrapped. FBI and Most Wanted are already hits on their own; by adding a third hour of unique content, CBS is not only appealing to existing fans of this corner of the Dick Wolf universe, but also presenting three hours of content that would fit the average binge-watch.

In an era when streaming is a formidable force in the entertainment world, drawing on the numbers that have made Netflix and other streamers so successful can only work in favor of FBI and its two spinoffs. Dick Wolf continued, saying:

And after forty years of doing this, the one thing I know is that if you set the table correctly, for an American television audience, they'll stay. We're all basically lazy, you know, there is no more appointment television, the way there was twenty years ago, even ten years ago. Now, you can get a complete fix, and you don't have to move. And people are very content to go from 8 [p.m.] to 11 [p.m.] if they're being entertained. And I think these shows will do a hell of job of entertaining people. And the proof is in the first two [shows], we're just adding on dessert.

Whose word about success in the television industry could possibly be more trusted than Dick Wolf's? He's been active in TV for decades now, and debuted his first mega-hit all the way back in 1990 to kickstart what would become a shared universe that is still going, more than thirty years later. If Dick Wolf says we're going to be entertained by the "dessert" of FBI: International on top of FBI and FBI: Most Wanted, then I think fans are going to be entertained!

As for the story that actually brings the three shows together for the premiere crossover despite International being set an ocean away, Dick Wolf previewed what's in store on the first Tuesday of a full FBI night of primetime. He shared:

It's a story that in its scale, not only justifies but thrives on three hours in a row. And we know these work. When they're done well, they're ratings crack and to be able to introduce International with a three-way crossover, I think is an amazing opportunity which I'm very, very grateful to the powers that be and CBS for saying go for it and do it and you know, hopefully knock it out of the park.

This isn't going to be a crossover that only barely shares characters and a storyline with just tangential connections, but one that takes three slots of primetime to tell the full story. If anything, it sounds like CBS is launching FBI: International as well as bringing back the other two series with a positively cinematic event. The episodes won't air for more than another week, and ratings won't be in until afterward, but it should be interesting to see just how strong of a launch in the ratings International gets with its series premiere to close out the crossover. Check out the first look at the upcoming FBI Tuesdays!

The FBI block of the 2021-2022 TV season on CBS premieres Tuesday, September 21 with FBI's Season 4 premiere at 8 p.m. ET, Most Wanted's Season 3 premiere at 9 p.m. ET, and International's series premiere at 10 p.m. ET. Most Wanted and International will switch spots following the crossover, with the FBI Fly Team in Europe taking over the 9 p.m. slot and the consistently dark pursuits of the Most Wanted returning to the Most Wanted place at 10 p.m.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).