CBS loses in Charlie Sheen shutdown

Each episode of 'Two and a Half Men' brings millions of dollars to all parties involved, making the show's hiatus a costly setback.

By Kim Peterson Feb 2, 2011 11:52AM
Credit: (© Ed Andrieski/AP)
Caption: Charlie SheenCharlie Sheen is in rehab, throwing the entire season of television's top-rated comedy into chaos. Only two episodes of "Two and a Half Men" are in the can, leaving the remaining eight in question.

And that spells trouble for CBS Corp. (CBS), which can regularly count on 15 million viewers for an episode of the show, The Associated Press reports. The show is so popular that even its reruns get more viewers than other comedies' first-run episodes.

"Two and a Half Men" brings major revenue to all parties involved. Sheen gets nearly $2 million per episode. The show's producer, Warner Bros. Television, gets a $4 million payment from CBS for each episode. And CBS more than makes up for that money by selling ads to accompany the show.

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One analyst firm estimates that "Two and a Half Men" pulled in nearly $162 million in ad revenue in 2009 and $114 million for the first nine months of last year, AP reports.

Shares of CBS dropped about 7% after after Sheen was rushed to a Los Angeles hospital last week for severe abdominal pains. The shares are starting to rebound, though not to previous levels.

The cash cow is just as big for Warner Bros. Television, especially because Warner also sold the show to the FX cable channel. When you combine the FX and CBS deals along with syndication payments expected for at least a decade, experts say, the sitcom's value could reach $600 million over the next several years.

All of which makes Sheen's absence particularly painful. It also makes you wonder why CBS and Warner let the actor careen so out of control over the past few years. After that wild night in a New York hotel room and the misdemeanor assault plea in a domestic-violence case, Sheen's well-being should have been a major focus for the network and production company. But in CBS's defense, Sheen reportedly continued to show up for work in a professional manner throughout his personal ups and downs.

CBS has addressed the financial impact of Sheen's rehab, saying that "any immediate programming or financial implications pale in comparison to his long-term health, safety and well-being," AP reports. Any ratings slip for the show will be more than offset by the reduced programming bill, CBS said, adding that putting the show on hiatus is "not material" to the network.

And though it seems impossible to imagine the show continuing without Sheen, that is one alternative. "The Office" will likely go on without Steve Carell, and "Cheers" continued for years after Shelley Long said goodbye.

Feb 2, 2011 2:31PM
I think they should do a couple of shows without him. Alan, Berta & Jake are very funny and it would not hurt to try 1 or 2 shows without him.
Feb 2, 2011 1:09PM
I think it would be wise and cost effective for CBS, to take a much more hands on role in preserving the life and functionality of their self-destructive golden child - Mr. Sheen. Perhaps, it will be necessary to hire two big burly body guards/sobriety coaches/babysitters to watch him 24/7 even after his "rehab".  No alcohol, no drugs, no parties, no porn stars.  Add to that a nutritionist and a medical team to try to get him healthy and detoxified.  Just pure clean living for awhile while he is filming, who knows maybe he will discover that he likes how he feels without the hangovers and toxicity.  Maybe when he is sober for awhile he can embark on and maintain a relationship with a nice, clean, sober girl.  One hopes that once he is free from his demons that he will learn to find true joy and pleasure in life without self-destruction, drugs, alcohol and damaged women.
Feb 2, 2011 2:53PM
i agree with coldheart, do some shows without him,,Judith, Herb, Rose, Evelyn,,they are also very funny actors,,,something different couldn't hurt.
Feb 2, 2011 4:45PM
I used to love the show, but I'm just over it now.

I guess I understand why most people find it so hilarious, but I'm bored with Charlie - always drunk, always a womanizer, never changes.  It's the same joke every night and I don't find it funny anymore.

The other characters are awesome, which is why I'm happy to catch an episode every now and then, but I just don't understand why people get so devoted to it anymore.

Feb 2, 2011 4:34PM

They should have fired this jerk a long time ago. I'm not a fan of him or the show, but I know a lot of people watch it. I'm sure there are tons of more talented actors they could bring in to replace him. I think he's a disgusting role model for kids that are fans of t he show. I mean grow up, you have 4 kids of your own and you are still running around with prostitutes, porn stars, and are a drug addict. He'll end up dead at this point.

Feb 2, 2011 3:41PM
Fire Sheen and hire his brother Emilio Estevez to take his place  he's just as funny and i bet that will light a fire in sheen's ****  lol
Feb 2, 2011 3:25PM
Feb 2, 2011 5:00PM

This show is a horrible example for lots of people.  It is on at prime time so the kids can hear it, and they will say anything for an attention grabber.   Think of all the children that hear the garbage spewed from this show.


   My God, do people not care what their children, nieces, nephews hear?!?!?  It's  no wonder there are SO many screwed up people in the world.  I know, if you don't like it, turn the channel.  Believe me I do.  But alot of adults and kids don't. 


  I am not a prude by no means, but jeeez.  The show is all about sex, penis, poop, and whatever the hell.  We all know it all exists, but why act like perverts about it. wth

Feb 2, 2011 5:08PM
This guy is a total scumbag and it really p i s s e s me off that he isn't in prison.
Feb 2, 2011 5:36PM
it's the writers who've made the show successful - Sheen is just playing a part, albeit his life is imitating his art.....the show could've been just as successful with another actor - I do agree that the show's content has gotten raunchy and could use an over-haul.....maybe they ought to write it into the script that Charlie is going to re-hab too.....what the heck, his life mirrors his character so why not have his character mirror his life?
Feb 2, 2011 6:42PM
Time for a new show, this one is old, predictable and Sheen will kill himself if he keeps getting paid so much.
Feb 2, 2011 9:46PM
yes, I agree, Sheen's character has has gotten old and new favorite show is Big Bang Theory....although some of that content at times is also too sex-oriented
Feb 2, 2011 7:31PM
He's an idiot. He's getting 1.8mm an episode for what?  Sounds like I am not missing much by not watching this show.  What happened to shows being able to make you laugh without being disgusting or sexual?
Feb 2, 2011 4:00PM

I was with Charle on throwing down with five girls at one time, but the coke is a no. Hell if it was me I would be rotating into a new set of five as often as I could - the man is single and rich, coke was not needed. The women still would have been there. I just would not take anything to a point where it is hurting myself, family, co-wokers, and wallet. Money just lets you be more of what  you are deep down, and he is not much of a person. So him being a womanizer is okay, but not an addict. Hurting your health, freedom(jail?), and earnings (present and future) is crazy.


The show could do without him for several episodes with the other actors having a chance to shine. We still need to remember it's called "2 1/2 Men" not "1 1/2 Men". the ratings may slip a little, but I would still watch it because of the other characters (bring back CandiRed heart).

Feb 2, 2011 5:09PM
I've always been puzzled by his success.  Yes, he comes from famous actors, but that can't guarantee your success if you don't bring it. He's not a good actor.  He's always had a smarmy rich white boy aura to him.  The only role he's had that's close to this is Wall Street.  He'd probably do well as an abusive plantation owner in a Civil War era movie, but that's it.  Definitely not convincing as a Vietnam War soldier wanting to do his dutry.
Feb 2, 2011 4:30PM
Charlie should get another million dollars an episode for the publicity he is generating.  I just wish he would realize he is playing a part.......
Feb 2, 2011 2:29PM
its probably time to move on to a new actor - one that may be a better role model for youth.  Anybody can play a guy who is a rich womanizer who loves to drink and look confused while saying funny lines that some one else writes, but it takes a real winner to be a good person off the screen.
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