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As the 2021-2022 broadcast TV season takes shape, CBS is reportedly eyeing a strategy that would shift two of its highest profile genre dramas to streaming, beefing up the just-launched Paramount+ platform and potentially giving both shows a longer lifespan. Deadline reports the network is in the midst of negotiating deals that would move acclaimed supernatural drama Evil and Silence of the Lambs mystery spinoff Clarice to the streamer for their respective second seasons.
Evil, created by Robert and Michelle King and starring Katja Herbers and Mike Colter, debuted to critical acclaim and word-of-mouth buzz in September of 2019, and so impressed CBS out of the gate that it was renewed for a second season the next month. Of course, the pandemic has since delayed production of that new season, but now that a second round of episodes is approaching, the network is eyeing a move to Paramount+ for the series following a strong digital presence in the year since its first season. Evil's live broadcast ratings weren't especially large, but the show has since attracted a lot of eyeballs in the streaming space, particularly after a strong performance on Netflix, making it a perfect fit for the expanding Paramount+ space.
Clarice, a high-profile crime drama with a horror bent billed as a continuation of The Silence of the Lambs and starring Rebecca Breeds in the title role, debuted earlier this year and has since been the worst performing drama on CBS in terms of live ratings. The show has fared significantly better on Paramount+, where it could continue to build a whole new audience in its second year.
In both cases, the series also represent examples of CBS hoping to keep key creative teams in solid working relationships with both the network and its parent company. For example, Clarice was co-developed by Alex Kurtzman, who's become a key piece of the overall CBS content strategy in recent years thanks to his key role in reinventing Star Trek for the Paramount+ predecessor CBS All Access.
Whatever the overall motivation, there's a clear shift happening here in terms of which shows networks see as broadcast victories (CBS is also making room on its schedule for another NCIS spinoff, for example) and which ones they see as streaming winners. Some audiences would just rather queue up their favorite shows at their leisure rather than catch things on DVR (if they even have a DVR), and the continued proliferation of new streaming services means that networks are working even harder to capture that audience with the shows that will hook them.
The creative benefit, of course, is that shows like Evil and Clarice will theoretically get significantly longer lifespans than they would have had they possibly fizzled on broadcast due to a dwindling audience.