Kelly Kahl, a studio exec for CBS, spoke to Deadline about the future of NCIS and the value of franchises. He also addressed concerns that NCIS could soon be drawing to a close. Concerns came after rumors that leading actor Mark Harmon wouldn’t be returning.
According to Kahl, the network hasn’t worked out how many episodes will star Harmon but is pleased with the direction the show is taking.
“We take it year by year with Mark, we’d love to have him as long as he’d like to be here,” Kahl told Deadline “Even in this past season, he might have been light in a couple of [episodes], so we’re happy to work around his schedule.”
Exec Talks about the Value of TV Franchises like ‘NCIS’
Likely, a reason that CBS is willing to keep Mark Harmon on as long as he wants is that TV franchises are valuable to the network.
“You have to objectively look at what is working on broadcast television; it is these kinds of shows, it is franchises,” he said. “In my mind, franchises hit the trifecta: they have terrific live viewing, they have significant delayed viewing, and they also do very well on streaming.”
Streaming is incredibly important to broadcast networks, as more and more people say goodbye to their cable plans.
“If you look at any streamer, what pops up? You see Criminal Minds, NCIS, these are shows that work for us on several different levels.”
A show with a name value like NCIS is also more likely to stand out in a crowded market. People are more likely to tune in to a show with name recognition. NCIS: Hawaii, for instance, can expect those familiar with NCIS to give it a boost in the ratings.
“In terms of putting them on the air, it is a tougher environment so having shows with name values that the viewers have experience with, gives you a leg up in this very crowded environment,” he said.
NCIS season 19 will air during CBS’s 2021-2022 programming. It’ll air alongside two other shows in the franchise, NCIS: Los Angeles, and the new NCIS: Hawaii. NCIS: Hawaii has an interesting and standout cast, with Vanessa Lachey playing the leading character.
While CBS canceled NCIS: New Orleans earlier this year, fans of the NCIS flagship shouldn’t have to worry about being canceled by the network. Likely, the show will end once leading players such as Mark Harmon decide to exit the series. While there’s no telling when that’ll happen, the upcoming broadcast season looks bright for fans of the franchise.