‘FBI’: Should Fans Expect the Franchise to Pull a ‘SEAL Team’ and Go to Streaming in the Future?

by Suzanne Halliburton

FBI and it’s two spinoffs are flourishing on CBS’ Tuesday night primetime schedule. But could the network ever consider making any of these shows streaming only?

Fans are pondering the question, with good reason. CBS pulled both Evil and SEAL Team off its network and made them streaming only for Paramount+. The network also did something similar with The Good Fight, which was the spinoff of the very popular The Good Wife.

TV Insider columnist Matt Roush addressed this question in his weekly Q and A feature with his readers. One fan asked:

“Affording multiple streaming services can be a problem, but I find the Paramount+ drug-lord business model most offensive. Watch The Good Wife but pay for the sequel. Enjoy Evil for a season, then pay up for more. Several seasons of SEAL Team, then we’ve got you. Should I ever trust another CBS offering?”

Roush responded: “Short answer: Yes. I doubt CBS will ever put the network’s successful crime dramas and comedies behind the paywall first — although as we’ve seen most recently with 1883 (also from the ViacomCBS family), spinoffs are now off the table. Still: I’m sure whatever the next FBI series Dick Wolf comes up with (FBI in Space?), it will air first on CBS.”

Dick Wolf’s franchises are most connected to NBC. With the revival of Law & Order, Wolf will have three hours of Thursday primetime focused on the franchise. And on Wednesday, the Wolf One Chicago shows run back to back to back. Wolf and Peacock signed a licensing deal in 2020 that saw all past episodes of Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU and Law & Order: Criminal Intent plus the Chicago shows added to the Peacock library.

But CBS also has a piece of the Dick Wolf action on Tuesday, with FBI, FBI: International and FBI: Most Wanted. International, which focuses on the FBI fly team based in Hungary, is the most-watched new show this TV season.

Nelly Kiss CBS©2021

Streaming would mess up the Dick Wolf drama vibe if CBS plucked away International for Paramount+. Back in September, CBS introduced International with a three-hour FBI crossover. The three hours of FBI shows focused on a sex-trafficking story based on Jeffrey Epstein.

“It’s really exciting. It’s not the same story,” the FBI creator said. “But 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. 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 at CBS for saying, ‘Go for it and do it and hopefully knock it out of the park.’”

As Wolf described it “ratings crack” wouldn’t have the same impact if one of the shows went streaming only.