What happens to TV advertisers that bought into CBS' "Two and a Half Men," now that the show won't be producing any more original shows this year? Very little.
"It's not like advertisers are going to pull out," said Ira Berger, director of national broadcast for the Dallas-based Richards Group. "It's not like it's a new show. I don't think people will be writing cards and letters."
"If you didn't want to be in a show with Charlie Sheen [star of "Men"], you were already out of the show for sometime," says Brad Adgate, senior vice president and corporate research director for Horizon Media.
Sheen, seemingly always in the middle of high-profile scandals involving drugs, women and porn stars over the last several years, blew up over the last few days on radio talk shows and in a letter sent to TMZ.com. He peppered his rants with anti-Semitic and other inflammatory remarks concerning executive producer Chuck Lorre. As a result, CBS and Warner Bros., which produces the show, said original production of the sitcom would be suspended for the rest of the year. For the rest of the 2010-2011 season, the show will be in reruns -- which isn't bad for the network. "It repeats well and brings in a younger audience," says Adgate.
And it's a show many advertisers still support. Sheen might even generate more viewers, attracting curiosity seekers, according to executives. One media buyer noted that FX's recent airings of "Two and a Half Men" reruns are earning surprisingly strong ratings for the 8-year-old show, especially with the cabler's key audience group, young men.
Still, if Sheen's latest inflammatory remarks rub advertisers the wrong way, media executives can decide whether to continue in a program or put their money on another CBS show -- just as they do when a series is canceled or goes on hiatus. CBS does have many other comedies including "Big Bang Theory" where TV advertisers can move into.
In 2010, "Men" pulled in $154.7 million in ad revenue for CBS and $267.7 million in ad revenue for its syndication airings, sold by Warner Bros, according to Kantar Media.
While CBS and Warner Bros. took unusually strong action, the companies didn't take the final step -- totally canceling the show. "They left the door open," said Adgate, "because of the value of the show."
Despite Sheen's ongoing problems, viewers still flock to "Men" in big numbers. Adgate says: "He has been called Teflon Charlie. Viewers have been able to separate his on-screen character from his off-screen character."
In the most recent week, "Two and a Half Men" was tied for fourth-highest-rated show among 18-49 viewers (with "Glee") at a 4.2 rating. Overall, the show pulls in around 14 million viewers on CBS and an estimated 12 million in syndication reruns.