‘NCIS’: How Change in Timeslots Has Affected Ratings

by Anna Dunn

NCIS has changed timeslots from its traditional Tuesday night spot to Monday nights. So, has the change affected the show in the ratings?

It’s hard to tell exactly what drives down ratings these days. With more people than ever cutting their traditional cable plans for streaming, ratings totaled for all shows go down each year. Still, something like changing timeslots can have a major impact on ratings. And NCIS changed timeslots for the first time ever this year even as it enters its 19th season.

This, on top of the rumors that Mark Harmon won’t be in many episodes this season, has some fans worried about a ratings dip.

However, it looks like NCIS managed the timeslot switch effectively unscathed. TV Insider reports that the season premiere reached 8.15 million live same-day viewers in comparison to the  8.5 million that tuned in on the season 18 finale night. That .35 million drop isn’t actually a big deal. Shows like NCIS typically lose viewers from season to season, so a drop like this could have been expected even if it kept timeslots.

The live + 3 day numbers show an even better trend. The Hollywood Reporter says that the show added the most viewers to its total after 3 days, rising 38% and winding up at 11.6 million viewers. This made NCIS the only scripted series for that whole week to hit over 10 million viewers.

So… needless to say, it looks like the timeslot change has left NCIS relatively unphased. The show also still has Mark Harmon at the helm in the beginning episodes. But reports from earlier this summer indicated he’ll have a minimal role this season.

Why CBS Moved ‘NCIS’

Some may look at the decision to move the most popular scripted drama in the world out of its near two decades long-held timeslot a risky move, but the reasons for moving the series appear to be two-fold.

First, CBS wanted to make room for all three series in the FBI franchise to air back to back to back. This has been done with mild success.

Second, this allowed NCIS to air right before the brand new NCIS: Hawai’i, giving an important ratings leg up to the new spinoff.

Mark Harmon’s Future on the Show is in Question

We do know Gibbs is in the first four episodes of season 19. The next episode will follow the team after Gibbs goes missing again when trying to get information out of a now-caught serial killer. Episode 4 looks like a really special one. Gibbs and McGee go to Alaska together to look for more clues about the serial killer.

There’s no telling what the future for Gibbs on the show looks like after that. CBS and fans alike are going to keep a close eye on how the numbers dip when Harmon isn’t at the helm of the show.

So whether or not NCIS will still hold strong in the ratings throughout the rest of the season is still up in the air considering its lead won’t feature in every episode. But the show is still worth a watch. You can now catch it on Mondays at 9/8 Central.