It’s been a season of surprises for “Magnum P.I.” fans.
The first surprise – a big one – came when the show (shown here) was cancelled by CBS. The second came this weekend (seven weeks later), when NBC decided to pick the show up.
For now, fans can still catch reruns at 9 p.m. Fridays on CBS. The new episodes will be limited – only 10 a year (not the usual 22) for two seasons, with the first perhaps arriving early in 2023.
“Magnum” has been averaging 5.2 million viewers and holding steady. Its ratings for this fourth season are down 6.3 percent; most shows have fallen faster.
But in the 18-49 age group, its ratings are down almost 20 percent. Among CBS’ scripted shows, only one with fewer viewers (“SWAT”) was renewed; only one with a lower 18-49 rating (“Blue Bloods) was renewed – and next season will be its last.
Still, that’s by CBS standards. Compared to shows on the other broadcast networks, “Magnum” was doing fine. Besides, all Friday shows do poorly in 18-49; also, CBS messed up the night by trying to insert reality shows at 8 p.m.
But “Magnum” was doomed for other reasons. Filmed in Hawaii, it’s fairly expensive; it can make back the money by selling overseas and to cable stations, but CBS only owns half the show.
The other half is owned by Universal … a corporate partner of NBC. That led to quick negotiations and the new deal.
And yes, this sort of thing works both ways. Long ago, NBC cancelled “JAG.” It jumped to CBS, where it ran for nine more seasons and spun off “NCIS.” So far. “NCIS,” “NCIS: Los Angeles” and “NCIS: Hawaii” have run a combined 33 seasons on CBS.