Why CBS Is Pulling the Plug on TV Movie Series

May 29, 2012  •  Post A Comment

CBS has had enough of a popular television movie series even though it has attracted decent audience numbers, Variety reports. Among the problems: The audiences are too old.

The series is the “Jesse Stone” movies, starring Tom Selleck. The most recent one, “Benefit of the Doubt,” which aired May 20, attracted a healthy 12.93 million viewers, but only a slim 1.2 rating in the 18-49 demo — the audience that matters most to advertisers. The rating among viewers 50 and older was almost 10 times that, the story notes.

The series, based on a series of novels by Robert B. Parker, will not continue on CBS.

The story reports: “Michael Brandman, who produces the movies with Selleck and has taken over writing the books since Parker’s death in 2010, said CBS had notified them they wouldn’t be ordering any more movies about the small-town sheriff, and that it was unclear whether the property might have a future elsewhere.”

Brandman said he and Selleck were “surprised CBS was so wedded to those (younger) demographics,” the story reports.

The report adds: “Network sources say the decision was actually more complex than that, including CBS’s success with series creating less opportunity for movies and specials, other than a handful of award shows. The network has also almost entirely gotten out of the longform business. Last year, the Eye parted with the ‘Hallmark Hall of Fame,’ concluding a 16-year affiliation. Those movies subsequently moved to ABC.”


  1. If you haven’t seen one, the Jesse Stone movies have an almost hypnotic sense of contemplative quiet to them. A shame we won’t see more.

  2. If Selleck and his studio want to continue making these — and for the sake a good television, I hope they do — I can imagine a number of cable channels would make a great home — TNT, USA or Sony’s own HD cable channel…

  3. I’m in marketing and yet I still have a hard time with using 18-49 as a “gold standard” demo. It’s not like the minute a person turns 50 they stop buying products – or even that the mix of products purchased immediately goes to only Depends and Viagra. Seems to me that Baby Boomers are still a massive audience with good size wallets – why discount them so badly?

  4. Because of the belief that older consumers are already set in their ways and are already brand loyal. It’s hard to get someone who has put Heinz on their hot dogs since childhood to try a new/different ketchup. Advertisers go after youngsters because they believe that 18-25 year olds have not established such loyalties yet and can be persuaded to try something new or different. Sucks for older viewers, because they are also the most loyal viewers…but broadcasters won’t program to them. Luckily, there’s MeTV for us boomers!

  5. Myke is right. When your over 50, it is reasonable to believe that you won’t fall for the B.S. and Hype that most of these advertisers are trying to peddle.

  6. Time for the baby boomers (50+ generation) to create their own cable channel.
    First NBC cancels Harry’s Law for its large older audience (of 8 million viewers), now CBS cancels the Jesse Stone movies. The tweleve or thirteen million viewers of the Jesse Stone movies is still a very large audience that still has a lot of buying power.
    No wonder people don’t watch network television like they used to. The younger demographic isn’t loyal to network tv anymore (with all of the other options to choose from), and the networks aren’t programming to the older demographic.
    Broadcasting, by definition, means appealing the largest possible audience. Are the broadcasting networks trying to become cable channels (with their paltry, sometimes non-existant ratings)?

  7. I think advertisers are missing the boat. Baby Boomers are famous for trying new things. I’m 49 and love trying new products. Just this weekend I purchased coconut flavored beer based on the recommendation of someone I bumped into in the store. My husband & I re-arrange our lives to watch “Jesse Stone” Movies. (Anything with Tom Selleck and I’m there!) I really hope another network picks these up, they are great movies!

  8. I’ve always thought this was flawed thinking, although it did keep some shows I liked (like BUFFY) on the air. It also helped kill the TREK franchise as we know it. 50+ viewers have a number of choices on cable and a few broadcast choices thanks to digital broadcasting now that CBS has abandoned them, at least for now. We’ll see how they like the bottom of the ratings once they decide the CSI and NCIS viewers are too old (which they are, according to their current standards).

  9. I LOVE the Jesse Stone movies and am waiting daily to hear that some channel has the smarts to back further movies. Tom Selleck may be long in the tooth but he still has great audience appeal!

  10. And that is a stupid assumption isn’t it regarding “older” viewers. because the “older” fans, of which I am one, tried something new when we watched the first Jesse Stone movie and got hooked. Maybe the executives who are themselves in that age group are quite wrong and bigoted. besides the 18-25 or even up to 30s are still hooked on cartoons and jackass type shows–how is that for new?

  11. And that is a stupid assumption isn’t it regarding “older” viewers. because the “older” fans, of which I am one, tried something new when we watched the first Jesse Stone movie and got hooked. Maybe the executives who are themselves in that age group are quite wrong and bigoted. besides the 18-25 or even up to 30s are still hooked on cartoons and jackass type shows–how is that for new?

  12. It is tragic that CBS has to stoop this low to outcast 50 and older group, no surprise… I have stopped watching CBS (Kiro T.V.) in my area for most programing. When I watched the first Jesse Stone movie I was hooked. I don’t understand if a series is so popular that they would pull it. It’s only on once a year and we older folks need a good clean show to watch. I am so tiered of sitcom shows anymore. This sort of makes me feel like once you reach a certain age you’re just written off, like the medical industry has done. Well they next pull Blue Bloods! BTW, I own every show from the series of Jesse Stone, I am glad to have it as part of my collections…

  13. The creators of the Jesse Stone movies should take their material to a cable network or to Netflix, which creates its own series now. Either that or go straight to video. They would make a fortune. There’s no reason these days to stick with the old model of releasing a movie or a series. It’s not necessary, and the old model doesn’t give a fig about viewers, even 13 million of them.

  14. myself and my room mate are both over 60+, we both enjoy the Jessie Stone series very much,and it all started one Sunday afternoon. on lifetime when they were showing. three of the movies and since then we have brought. all eight. movies and wish to continue. buying. more when they make another one.
    These networks and those advertisers have failed in their thinking and rethinking just like back in the 80’s, coke’s better idea (new coke)turned out to be a bad idea and coke has not been the same since then
    not like before the change.
    we who are over 50+, we don’t go out as much, we don’t party every night, we leave that for those between 18 to 35 age group which are out either partying. drinking alcohol. or smoking pot and they don’t. care one bit about those advertisers that why you see advertising for alcohol products.
    can a 18 to 24 buy a 25.000 dollar car or a 250,000 dollar or higher house by themselves with out the help from someone older like those who are 50+.
    just like radio stations who only want to cater to certain demographic 18 to 24, 25 to 34, 35 to 44, 45 to 54, 55+ age groups.
    Executive. an advertisers have failed their viewer buy producing these stupid so called realities shows.
    It’s. no wonder why the age group. 50+ is turning to one programming like on pbs, cable. or satellite
    due the programing which those networks believe their viewers like

  15. I think you are making a BIG mistake canceling jesse stone series. We watch it every time it comes on as do my friends. Older generations are more loyal and would watch Tom Selleck over and over, and will watch Blue Bloods over and over as long as it airs . We will watch Jesse Stone series with Tom Selleck as long as it runs.

  16. (post contains spoilers)Oh bother, went to IMDB hoping to see a Jesse Stone movie in the works for Tom and then saw this article when I did a Google search. I just watched the last two movies and feel bereft Jesse will not be back…I mean he got the job back, Suit walked through the door, Rose has to be not far behind…what will happen between him and Thelma, will Reggie get on the bed with him when he pats it and will they ever find Hasty, that miserable/lovable SOB..I need more Jesse Stone!!

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