Bubble Shows Analysis: ABC

Back in the 2011-2012 broadcast television season, Revenge was the new "it" show, consistently receiving exceptional ratings and reviews. Three years, two time slot changes, and a supposed decline in quality later, the show is on the verge of cancellation. It has its die-hard fans—just visit popular TV ratings   sites and the fans are there—but this fan base is just a shadow of what it used to be. It has only marginally improved the dreaded Sunday at 10pm time slot, and has had the misfortune of having lead-ins from the low-rated shows Resurrection and Secrets & Lies. That being said, it is also a heavily serialized show in its fourth season, meaning that a better lead-in would not help too much, as the fan base is very unlikely to grow. At the end of the season it will have enough episodes for a syndication deal, where fans past and present can appreciate past episodes on a cable network. Unfortunately for the fans, the ratings hover in the high 0s and low 1s, making it one of the lowest-rated series on the network.
Prediction: Cancelled
UPDATE: Revenge has officially been cancelled after four seasons, as predicted.
                                           Fresh Off The Boat
Fresh Off The Boat had a very promising start, premiering to a rating higher than its lead-in on Wednesday, and keeping a sizable amount of those numbers for its first handful of Tuesday airings. It even remained steady against the return of The Voice, a ratings juggernaut. However, it has been left to fend for itself, airing at 8pm on a night that has historically brought ABC trouble. Ratings have been rapidly declining ever since Daylight Savings Time hit (which many believe is not a coincidence), and the show is incapable on anchoring the hour. Family comedies such as this one have usually been ABC's forte when it comes to comedy, finding instant success in shows such as Modern Family, The Middle, and Blackish. However, others such as the one-and-done Trophy Wife have been deemed gone-too-soon by fans, and even The Goldbergs did not find its stride until its move from Tuesday to Wednesday. There is certainly potential in the show, but the question is if ABC is willing to move a show, most likely being The Middle, in an effort to bring its ratings back up to prior levels. Another factor to consider is that it is produced by 20th Century FOX—meaning, ABC can very easily replace it with the in-house produced Dr. Ken, another Asian-American family comedy pilot. On the contrary, it was bundled with the fourth season renewal of Last Man Standing, and this could very much happen this season as well (see below). 
Prediction: Renewed
                                       Last Man Standing
It is the common rule nowadays that if a show receives full season orders for its first three seasons (~22 episodes per season) then it will receive a full fourth season. This is because cable networks interested in syndicating the show would like 88 episodes so that they have variety of the show to air and make the buy all-around worthwhile. That being said, Last Man Standing had a hard time being renewed for a fourth season because of issues with contracts—in particular, star Tim Allen. The eventual renewal came from the production company, 20th Century FOX, conditional of ABC picking up Fresh Off The Boat and Cristela. Typically, a network will want to keep a healthy relationship with an outside production company as a way of making sure the production company would continue to offer them shows which they are interested in ordering to series. Although 20th Century FOX still has Modern Family on ABC, my guess is they would be displeased if ABC cancelled the other three aforementioned shows. In my opinion, the decision comes down to two aspects: if Tim Allen can agree to a contract, being a well-known star on a low-rated show (although passable for Fridays); and if ABC wants to continue to air multi-camera comedies on Friday. If the answers to both are "yes", then the show will be renewed.
ABC may also consider ditching multi-camera comedies, but instead try out single-camera comedies. If they go forth with such an idea, which I would assume has at least been discussed, they should air Shark Tank at 8, where it has proven to hold steady with its 9pm airings, followed by The Middle at 9pm. In order to keep 20th Century FOX happy, they can pick up a family sitcom that is currently in redevelopment from a previous pilot season, formerly titled The Brainy Bunch. As such, ABC would have a much stronger Friday night, and Last Man Standing can be eligible for a syndication deal despite not airing new episodes. With everything considered, this is probably the toughest prediction I will have to make do to not knowing which direction ABC will take when forming its 2015-2016 schedule.
Prediction: Ended*
*A term that is justifiably used for a show that has aired for at least four seasons before the network decides to part ways with it, unlike a freshmen show that may be pulled before ten episodes have aired.
There is also that "shock cancellation" or "shockingly ended" aspect that may make fans of almost any show nervous, no matter how irrational, when up-fronts are approaching. This right now is eligible for two long-running shows:
Although at the TCAs President Paul Lee made it sound like Castle had been practically renewed, it has since been revealed that contracts going forth have been a problem. Additionally, ratings have fallen considerably this season, going from low 2s to mid 1s. However, contracts will most likely work themselves out, and ratings are still well enough to warrant an eight season renewal.
Prediction: Renewed
                                           The Middle
Charlie McDermott, who plays oldest child Axl on the long-running family sitcom, was recently in the news for signing a contract to be the lead actor in the CBS comedy pilot Super Clyde. Although he will be a junior in college next season, his character is often used as a means to let others shine—particularly, his relationship with younger brother Brick is one of the highlights of the character development in the show. It was also revealed, however, that all of the contracts are up at the end of the season, with none of the cast members approached for a new contract, as well as the slowly-but-surely thinning of the recurring cast members. The Middle this season is rating nearly identically with last season, and is ABC's #3 comedy. Renewal is all but guaranteed so long as these contracts are resolved.
Prediction: Renewed
UPDATE: All cast members have now signed on for a seventh season.
So, there you have it. What are your opinions on the matter? Sound off in the comments below.

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