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The NCIS franchise on CBS is one of the most successful on the small screen thanks to how long it has been going strong, with NCIS in Season 17, NCIS: Los Angeles in Season 11, and NCIS: New Orleans in its game-changing Season 6. While the original NCIS is still the dominant force in primetime when it comes to audience size, the One Chicago universe on NBC has been the consistent winner over NCIS in the ratings. CBS has now announced a big change for NCIS: New Orleans which raises the question: is NCIS becoming more like One Chicago?
NCIS: New Orleans will air new episodes on a new night in the new year. Starting on February 16, 2020, NCIS: NOLA will release on Sundays at 10 p.m. ET, placing NOLA directly behind new episodes of NCIS: Los Angeles in CBS’ Sunday night lineup. This means CBS has returned to a multi-hour block of NCIS programming, rather than three separate episodes, which hasn’t happened since 2016, when NOLA moved to the 10 p.m. ET Tuesday slot.
So, how does the pairing up of NCIS: Los Angeles and NCIS: New Orleans make the NCIS franchise more like One Chicago? Up until a couple of seasons ago, the three shows of One Chicago — a.k.a. Chicago Fire (now in Season 8), Chicago P.D. (now in Season 7), and Chicago Med (now in Season 5) — never all aired on the same night.
Once NBC went ahead and established Chicago Wednesdays, with all three hours of primetime occupied by one of the Chicago shows, the numbers of all three series experienced a boost and have remained generally consistent. Even more, the door opened for some truly cinematic crossovers. It’s something that no other multi-show universe in primetime has successfully pulled off, which is especially notable when compared to NCIS.
And these two franchise are very comparable! Both the NCIS and One Chicago franchises are currently comprised of three ongoing shows, and each has one failed spinoff to its name, although NBC gave Chicago Justice more of a shot than CBS ever gave NCIS: Red. The biggest difference is arguably that the three shows of NCIS have always aired either on different nights or with another show in between, while Med, Fire, and P.D. air first, second, and third on NBC Wednesdays.
Both NCIS: Los Angeles, which began the fall TV season in its usual Sunday night slot, and NCIS: New Orleans, which returned to its 10 p.m. ET Tuesday slot, have struggled in ratings and viewership throughout the 2019-2020 TV season so far. The original NCIS has continued to win in the viewership, but even the mothership can’t be counted upon to win its time slot in the ratings, let alone beat all three episodes of One Chicago.
Admittedly, NCIS and NCIS: New Orleans do currently both air on Tuesday nights, but the hour of FBI in between NCIS and NOLA means that franchise fans couldn’t just park on CBS for the night and experience a full block of NCIS. The move of NOLA to Sundays with NCIS holding on to its longtime 8 p.m. ET slot on Tuesdays still means that CBS won’t air all three shows on one night, but is this a step in the One Chicago direction? And could the block of NCIS: Los Angeles and NCIS: New Orleans mean a boost for both shows, as One Chicago has for Fire, P.D., and Med?
Only time will tell. I’ve been keeping an eye on NCIS vs. One Chicago throughout the fall season so far, so continue to stay tuned to CinemaBlend on Fridays for the latest in weekly ratings rundowns. For now, you can catch episodes of NCIS: New Orleans on CBS Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET, and there are big questions to answer about the aftermath of the recent monumental death. NOLA‘s move to Sundays at 10 p.m. ET (following NCIS: LA at 9 p.m. ET) begins Sunday, February 16.