LOS ANGELES — Two and a Half Men, once the highest-rated TV comedy in the United States, is ending its run with a 12th and final season as broadcaster CBS revamps its lineup to win back younger viewers.
The show, which starred Charlie Sheen until he was replaced by Ashton Kutcher in 2011, will retain its slot on Thursdays at 9 p.m., the network said Wednesday in a statement. Series creator Chuck Lorre "will be creating a season-long event to send it off," said Nina Tassler, head of entertainment for the network.
"It's important to keep your fans engaged," she said Wednesday at a CBS Corp. news conference in New York.
CBS is seeking to regain ground it lost last season to Comcast Corp.'s NBC and 21st Century Fox's Fox. While New York-based CBS is still the most-watched network, it had the largest ratings decline for younger audiences among the big four broadcast networks in the past season, with average nightly viewers falling 18 percent to about 3 million in the 18-to-49- year-old demographic, according to Nielsen data.
Though Two and a Half Men continued to appear regularly among the top 25 programs in the ratings after the transition to Kutcher, it had been surpassed by CBS hits such as The Big Bang Theory. Sheen was fired from the show, made by Time Warner's Warner Bros., after making disparaging comments about Lorre.
CBS's ratings drop last season was largely due to a lack of sports programming such as professional football and college basketball championship games, as well as the failure of shows Hostages and Intelligence in the 10 p.m. Monday time slot, Kelly Kahl, the network's senior executive vice president of prime-time programming, said in an interview. "That's 95 percent of the issue," Kahl said.
Help is on the way. In February, CBS won rights to televise eight NFL games on Thursday nights. The series of games begins Sept. 11, with Two and a Half Men and other shows replacing the games starting Oct. 30.
"It keeps the integrity of our Thursday lineup, but gives us a boost at the start of the season," Kahl said.
The addition of the eight-game NFL package and summer series Under the Dome and Extant illustrates the changing nature of broadcast TV, when new shows can be introduced at any point in the year rather than the traditional September-to-May season, CBC chief executive officer Les Moonves said at the news conference.
For example, the network is planning a late-in-the-season remake of The Odd Couple, featuring Friends star Matthew Perry and Thomas Lennon of Reno 911! as the mismatched roommates.
"There will be time periods when there are no repeats for the entire season," Moonves said. "That is a great luxury that we have. Having football makes it better."
Despite intense interest from fans of hit show How I Met Your Mother, which concluded a nine-year run this year, the network decided not to pick up the pilot for a spinoff series, How I Met Your Dad, put together by the same producers.
"There were things with the pilot that didn't work out," Tassler said. The creative team declined the network's request to redo the episode, she said.
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