ABC Schedule Analysis

Note: This article has been edited to adjust to changes made in the schedule since its original publishing in May.


If there is any network schedule so far that has played it safe, it was this one. For months, I have been trying to think of how ABC could optimize their comedy success, and which comedy would be forced to leave the night to do so. Turns out, none of them did, with the entire Wednesday lineup staying intact. Although unexpected to me, it was a pleasant surprise given that The Middle is my favorite TV series, and I could not have asked for a better pairing by ABC than The Middle and The Goldbergs. Stability is the goal here, and it appears that this is because they have great confidence in The Muppets. It is being asked to self-start Tuesdays and give a boost to midseason entry Fresh Off The Boat. When The Muppets leaves the air midseason, Fresh is expected to anchor the hour once again, showing that ABC has confidence in both The Muppets and its power as a lead-in. Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays also stayed the same, with the exception of Dr. Ken on at 8:30 on Fridays instead of Cristela. The only real news was Sunday: unexpectedly a Nashville-less night that will be led by Once Upon A Time, followed by new entries Oil and Of Kings and Prophets Blood & Oil and Quantico.


On March 9, 2009, ABC premiered Castle. Although a bubble show at first, it has passed the test of time and has become a very steady performer for the network—that is, until this season, when ratings have fallen down to very mediocre levels at best. However, Castle is now entering its eight season airing behind Dancing with the Stars on Mondays. Some say it has been under this protection for way too long, while others see stability as the better option. ABC kept Castle in its timeslot at the expense that two new dramas in a row will have to air on Sundays, which historically means that either one or none will be successful. 

ABC's Tuesday schedule has improved dramatically from the last two seasons. In 2013-2014, SHIELD underwhelmed to the point where the underrated Trophy Wife did not feel any boost, leading into an even more abysmal rating for the many shows they tried to air after it.  Both that season and this season, ABC has consistently had two shows on their Tuesday schedule which has struggled to break a 1.0. This season, the high-profiled Muppets are asked to self-start on the fall
schedule, which is something it most likely will do well. For starters, it already has much hype, the trailer was well-received, and insiders report that ABC loved its presentation even more so than the other comedies they ordered to series. Although many expected either Blackish or The Middle in the time slot, this could actually work. I would encourage everyone to give it a try—I did not expect to like the trailer nearly as much as I did. This would lead into Fresh Off The Boat, which did a decent job self-starting this season. It was good enough for a renewal, but not good enough to be considered a breakout hit. With a good leadin and maybe even some awards love for Constance Wu, we should see it grow. SHIELD will follow at 9, and then the male-skewing Quantico Wicked City at 10. The question is if Quantico Wicked City can defy the odds by being a hit show despite a mediocre lead-in. ABC has not seen much success in that time slot in years.

Every time I watch The Middle (which is every week), ABC starts with an announcement along the lines of "Tonight's all-new with The Middle, The Goldbergs, Modern Family, and Blackish, later Nashville and Kimmel". Turns out everyone watching The Middle will hear that exact same announcement next season, despite speculation of something moving away from the night. I'm genuinely surprised that neither The Goldbergs nor Blackish will be anchors, and
that neither The Middle nor Blackish will be paired with Fresh Off The Boat on Tuesdays. This proves ABC's confidence in The Muppets, which hopefully works out for their sake—last time they overestimated the power of SHIELD and as a result The Goldbergs did not see the ratings they presumably thought it would. Nashville not moving to Sundays is a shocker to me. Considering Secrets & Lies, which was on Sunday this spring, will be used as a gap show for Nashville, I was surprised they didn't move them to Sunday at 10, otherwise known as the syndication farm slot. I think the Blackish leadin can be used for much better, and that they should have picked up a dramedy. Maybe Mix just wasn't executed well enough. The only reason I can think of to keep Nashville as is because it airs an hour after Empire, albeit on a different network, and maybe ABC hopes that this time around viewers of Empire will want to switch over to Nashville at the end to hear some more singing?

 #TGIT is back in the fall. That, of course, stands for Thank God It's Thursday, and is the hashtag that has taken over Twitter as hype for Shondaland's three shows: Grey's Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder. As expected, her fourth show, The Catch, will premiere in the spring after How to Get Away with Murder's limited run (~16 episodes). Although Scandal has
weakened this spring and fans are mad at Grey's Anatomy, I still think this night will remain the cultural phenomenon is was this season. If The Catch ends up being huge in the ratings, Grey's may be a dark horse to be retired at the end of the season.

The format of Friday also remains the same: the continuation of multi-cam comedies at 8pm led by Last Man Standing, business reality show Shark Tank at 9pm, and long-running interview news show 20/20 at 10pm. This time, instead of Makibu Country, The Neighbors, or Cristela, the unlucky 8:30 show will be Dr. Ken, led by Community and The Hangover's Ken Jeong, with my reason for potentially tuning in being Trophy Wife's Albert Tsai. ABC seems to have little to no confidence in the show, considering their 0/3 record for the Friday at 8:30 comedy spot, and the fact that it has already been announced that Uncle Buck will be replacing it midseason. This is subject to change, of course, but I think this will be another under-advertised Albert Tsai show.

ABC is taking a big risk on Sunday, and quite frankly I do not think it will work out for them. They will stay steady for the first two hours, leading off with America's Funniest Home Videos at 7pm and Once Upon A Time at 8pm, but after that they are premiering two new dramas. The first one, Blood & Oil, is not very hyped right now, while 10pm Biblical show Of Kings and Prophets seems like it
would work more as a show following Once Upon A Time show Quantico looks like it may be cursed by its less-than-ideal time slot despite good critical reviews and hype from fans of the trailer on sites such as SpoilerTV. Assuming all these shows had to make the fall schedule, I think it would have been wise to schedule Oil Quantico Wednesday at 10, and Nashville Sunday at 10, and Of Kings and Prophets at 9.

What do you think of ABC's fall 2015 schedule? Do you think there are things they should have done differently, or things they did perfectly? Do you agree or disagree with my analysis? Leave a comment below and it may be featured as Saturday's Comment of the Week!

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