Hallelujah, It's Raining 'Men'

Two and a Half Men's financial success was sealed long before CBS renewed the show for a 10th season this fall, but adding another year appears to be a resounding win for all involved.

TV stations have more syndicated episodes to gain from the renewal. Warner Bros. completed sales of the show’s second cycle of syndication in November 2010, with its first cycle taking the series through nine seasons. And adding new episodes to that mix doesn’t change the license fees that stations have already agreed to pay per week for the seven years of the show’s second cycle, which runs through 2021.

Stations paid approximately $2 million per week for the show in its first cycle. Second-cycle fees are usually 50% of that, but in the case of Men, for which ratings have remained high in syndication, stations re-upped for approximately 80% or more of the first-cycle price.

Cable, however, will have to pay more for Men as a result of the renewal. FX’s contract for the show runs through 10 seasons, so the network will pay approximately $800,000 per episode—or $17.6 million for 22 episodes—for another season of the series, which now stars Ashton Kutcher instead of Charlie Sheen.

Stations are always happy to have more episodes of a hit show. They also approve of CBS’ move of the veteran series this fall to Thursdays at 8:30 p.m., where it will again be paired with The Big Bang Theory, another popular show from executive producer Chuck Lorre. Men used to air at 9 p.m., followed by Big Bang at 9:30 p.m., until CBS moved Bang to Thursdays at 8 p.m. two seasons ago.

“It’s really good for broadcasters to have more episodes of Two and a Half Men,” says Sean Compton, president of programming and entertainment for Tribune Broadcasting, which double-runs the show in access time periods across its station group. “Continuing to have the promotion on the network keeps it relevant, alive and vibrant. I think that move will have a positive halo effect for broadcasters.”

In syndication, the performance of both The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men improves when the two air together. According to Nielsen Media Research, Two and a Half Men improves 46% and Big Bang Theory adds 30% in the ratings, compared to each show’s performance when they air alone.

Two and a Half Men has been slipping a bit in the ratings this year, so putting those two shows back together again should help CBS get one more good year out of Men,” says Chuck Larsen, president of October Moon Television and a producers’ representative.

Warner Bros., which produces both Men and Bang, hopes that CBS’ other big fall move -- scheduling 2 Broke Girls on Mondays at 9 and Mike & Molly at 9:30 -- will pay off with similar results. Warner Bros. is prepping to take both sitcoms out to the broadcast and cable markets, and strong scheduling for both shows helps the studio’s case.

2 Broke Girls
is taking over the time slot that two other huge hits -- Two and a Half Men and Everybody Loves Raymond—held before it, and that bodes well for its prospects. Moreover, strengthening Thursdays from 8 to 9 p.m. on CBS should also bring a bigger audience to two dramas: the Warner Bros.-produced Person of Interest at 9 p.m. and CBS’ Elementary at 10.

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Paige Albiniak

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.