‘CSI’ Mystery: Why Has The Show Hit A Ratings Low?

'CSI's Marg Helgenberger (CBS)

'CSI's Marg Helgenberger (CBS)

Is too much competition killing ‘CSI‘s audience? Or is it something about the show itself that is eating away at its ratings like an industrious maggot?

The facts are these: In its most recent airing, CBS’ 11-year-old procedural dropped 13 percent in the coveted 18-to-49 demo to deliver its lowest ratings ever.


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As for total audience, ‘CSI’ copped 12.4 million viewers with its last go-round. This is a show that not two years ago was pulling north of 18 million viewers.

So again we pose: Why the decline?

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In the Comments section of Fancast’s most recent Thursday ratings report, readers shared a variety of theories on the crime show’s all-time low.

Some singled out the numerous cast changes that have reshaped the series in recent years, starting with William Petersen vacating the lead male role. He was followed soon after by Gary Dourdan, and now there are rumblings that Marg Helgenberger wants to turn in her badge after this cycle.

Others wonder if the Vegas-based drama simply has run out of icky tales to tell.

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Here’s a sampling of Fancast reader opinions:

* “Too many of the ‘good ones’ like Grissom have left. ‘CSI’ just doesn’t have any spark left.” – Jodi

* “‘CSI’ has certainly gone downhill since Grissom left. The writing isn’t as good and the characters don’t really interest me any more.” – JT

* “Hot sex scene with Marg Helgenberger? Good. Hot sex scene w/ Marg being interspersed with a guy being hacked to death? SQUICK!” – Arkle

* “‘CSI’ got a big bump in the demos for the premiere with Justin Bieber guest-starring, but I’m not surprised there was a sharp decline after that. Also, there are just too many good shows on Thursdays.” – H

* “‘CSI’ has some seriously corny storylines this year, I blame the writing more than anything. This year, vampire-werewolves, a shark in a pool? ‘CSI’ was better than this!” – DMONMCD

* “Unfortunately, ‘CSI’ is about dunzo. I don’t think they have anything ghoulish left to write about. Now would be a good time to explore the character’s personal lives stories; that may be interesting for awhile.” – Callie

But as reader H noted above, the problem might not lie with ‘CSI’ itself but the many other heavy hitters it airs against.

Not only does ABC’s ‘Grey’s Anatomy‘ have scores of faithful viewers forever on the prowl for good medical drama and soapy angst, but The CW’s freshman ‘Nikita‘ is proving to be as red-hot as its female star, ‘Fringe‘ is unspooling one of its most compelling seasons, and ‘The Office‘ has fresh buzz pegged to Steve Carell’s exit from the NBC comedy at season’s end.

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I still really enjoy ‘CSI’; I just enjoy its competition more,” says reader Tara. “I love… ‘Nikita,’ so I catch ‘CSI’ On Demand.” – Tara

How have you been solving the Thursday TV Glut problem? And has ‘CSI” fallen off your radar as a result of the increased competition?

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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