The new NCIS: New Orleans spinoff starring Scott Bakula has been greenlit by CBS and will debut in the fall, while the existing NCIS: Los Angeles is in for a shakeup. The new New Orleans based version of the NCIS franchise will air directly after the Mark Harmon NCIS mothership on Tuesday evenings, while NCIS LA will shift to Monday nights all by itself for Season 6. Is this mere scheduling, or does it represent a shift in power within the NCIS hierarchy? It could be a little of both.
NCIS LA has delivered strong ratings for five seasons, but it’s always been difficult to determine how much of that has been due to the show’s popularity and how much of it was simply a direct audience feed-in from the NCIS mothership airing immediately beforehand. When the producers attempted to use NCIS LA to create the new NCIS RED spinoff, it seemed to be a vote of confidence in the show. But that backfired when CBS declined to pick up RED. When the producers decided to attempt another spinoff set in New Orleans this past season, they went with the safe route of using the main NCIS show for the backdoor pilot.
That gamble worked perhaps a little too well: CBS not only picked up the new Scott Bakula show, it also decided kick NCIS LA out of the Tuesday night slot in favor of the new show. Instead of risking viewer overload by positioning all three shows back to back to back on Tuesday nights, NCIS LA is shifting to Mondays. If nothing else, we’ll find out how much of the current audience cares enough about the show to follow it to a different night for Season 6.
But it feels as if CBS has concluded that the potential of NCIS Los Angeles has peaked after five seasons, and now it’s more interested in incubating NCIS New Orleans with a lead-in audience. What do you think? Can NCIS LA continue to pull in big ratings on its own night? And will the new NCIS New Orleans spinoff sink or swim?