"Two and a Half Men" shutdown could cost millions

Mon Jan 31, 2011 7:19pm EST
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By Marisa Guthrie

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - As Charlie Sheen heads back to a rehabilitation facility, weeks of salacious headlines are now giving way to a steep financial price for the star's behavior.

In fact, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that if "Two and a Half Men" is forced to shut down permanently, it could jeopardize as much as $250 million in domestic syndication revenue for producer Warner Bros. Television and millions more in lost ad revenue for CBS.

In its eighth season, "Men' is the most-watched comedy on television, averaging 14.7 million viewers, while it is second only to ABC's "Modern Family' among the ad-coveted younger demographic of 18-49-year-olds.

CBS sells 30-second spots in "Men' for more than $200,000, according to media buyers, generating more than $3 million per episode. Kantar Media reports that the show grossed CBS more than $155 million in ad revenue last season alone.

And "Men' also is the network's linchpin on Monday nights, helping to launch successful comedies including "The Big Bang Theory' and most recently "Mike & Molly" (both from "Men" co-creator and executive producer Chuck Lorre).

There are currently only two new episodes of "Men" that have not yet aired, and while CBS will save on license fees if production remains shut down, the loss of new "Men" will certainly impact the overall performance of its Monday night lineup.

In a statement released to THR on Sunday, CBS again expressed concern for Sheen's well-being but sought to distance the network from any potential deleterious effect of the actor's behavior.

"Looking forward, the financial impact of the shutdown is not material to CBS," the statement says. "Any ratings declines will be more than offset by the reduced programing costs for episodes lost this season. We will begin to address the scheduling issues this week. The network is strong and deep with hit series; we're not reliant on one show. In addition, 'Two and a Half Men' has always performed well in repeats, and we have the option of ordering additional episodes of other popular comedies on the network."

At this point, the final two new episodes are scheduled to air February 7 and 14. (The first is fittingly titled "Three Hookers and a Philly Cheese steak," according to the CBS schedule.)

(Editing by Zorianna Kit)