What Does ABC's Future Look Like?

Hi! I'm Hunter, author of the summer renew/cancel predictions, and this is my first of five posts about the futures of the major broadcast networks. First up is ABC. ABC had a good year in 2014-15, but will that continue? It has Shondaland and a solid Wednesday comedy block to help it, but some shows, such as Agents of SHIELD and Modern Family ended the last season on lows, which could be scary to some ABC executives. How will ABC do in the 2015-16 season? What shows will come back in 2016-17? And how might the network do when its older shows end? Those are some of the questions that I will try to answer!

One of ABC's biggest concerns heading into this season may be what the low finale numbers of Agents of SHIELD, Modern Family, and Black-ish mean. Are the shows going to fall this season? Was it a fluke? Modern Family and Black-ish's finale ratings are more likely to be a fluke. They aired without new episodes of The Middle and The Goldbergs at 8:00 and 8:30. Black-ish is obviously lead-in dependent, but Modern Family shouldn't be affected by repeats as lead-ins, right? Most likely, many viewers watch the whole Wednesday comedy block (or at least The Middle and Modern Family) and either assumed that Modern Family was a repeat as well, or decided that since only the 9:00 hour was new, they would rather DVR the episodes or watch them on Hulu or some OnDemand service. Yes, Modern Family is dying, but not as quickly as the season six finale rating suggests. Agents of SHIELD on the other hand may be in trouble. Luckily for fans, SHIELD has two seasons under its belt, and has been renewed for a third, and since these seasons are all 22 episodes, a forth season will happen. But, SHIELD could be the new Revenge, four-and-done, with not-good ratings by the time it gets to its forth season.

There are four death slots on ABC's schedule, in my opinion: Sundays at 9:00, Sundays at 10:00, Tuesdays at 10:00, and Fridays at 8:30. Sundays at 9:00 aren't as bad as the rest. Revenge and Resurrection both started out doing well when they first aired there, but both shows fell. Revenge was lucky and was on its way to syndication and just got moved an hour to 10:00. Resurrection, however, was canceled after a low-rated second season. Secrets & Lies did decently there last spring, despite looking like it would be canceled at the start. Blood & Oil looks sure to bomb there however. When you go to 10:00 that same night, your chances fall even further. Betrayal, Red Widow, 666 Park Avenue, GCB, and Pan Am all failed there before Revenge moved there and aired its last low-rated season-and-a-half. Quantico is liked by reviewers, which makes me think it has a shot at a full season, but I think that the timeslot will eventually kill it, and I don't expect a season two. Tuesdays at 10:00 have also been very deadly, just ask Forever, Mind Games, Killer Women, Lucky 7, and Body of Proof, the five shows that were canceled after airing there since the end of Private Practice. Beyond the Tank shouldn't do too poorly there, but it's only airing there for a short time, then Wicked City takes over. I originally thought that it could do well, but now that it is premiering at the end of October, and is still only ten episodes, it looks like it will be a victim of poor scheduling, which is especially bad in a poor timeslot, like the one its in. Fridays at 8:30 has also been a bad timeslot. Cristela, The Neighbors, and Malibu Country were all canceled after airing a season here. Will Dr. Ken be different? I highly doubt it.

This year, ABC has six returning comedies (not including Once Upon a Time winter bridge Galavant): Fresh Off the Boat, The Middle, The Goldbergs, Modern Family, Black-ish, and Last Man Standing. ABC has four hours of comedy each week, as they have every year since the 2012-13 season. Even with how well ABC comedy is doing, adding a fifth hour of comedy to the week would be crazy, and ABC is not going to have only one new comedy on the schedule next fall. This means that, unless one of those six is held for mid-season 2017, any renewal of a new comedy (The Muppets, Dr. Ken, The Real O'Neals, Uncle Buck) means a cancelation of one of those. I would be shocked if ABC canceled one of their Wednesday comedies, and if The Muppets didn't do well enough to warrant a renewal. That's five comedy renewals. Dr. Ken and Uncle Buck most likely won't do very well, which leaves Fresh Off the Boat, The Real O'Neals, and Last Man Standing to fight for one renewal. Now, there is a chance that two of these will get renewed. ABC could hold one for mid-season, though that is unlikely, as the last time ABC held a returning comedy for mid-season they had four new comedies in the fall (Suburgatory was the returning comedy, The Goldbergs, Trophy Wife, Back in the Game, and Super Fun Night were the new comedies). The other chance for two of the three getting renewed is if The Middle or Modern Family decide that seven is enough seasons. It doesn't seem very likely for Modern Family to end after season seven, maybe season eight when most of the kids are grown up. But The Middle could decide to end in 2016. If not, Fresh Off the Boat will likely beat The Real O'Neals and Last Man Standing to a renewal, but if so, those two shows could be competing for the final spot. But, even if Last Man Standing is canceled, it could move to FOX or a FOX-owned station.

But, Fresh Off the Boat and Last Man Standing aren't the only returning shows that need to worry about if they are getting another season. Sophomore shows Agent Carter, American Crime, and Galavant all got renewals last May that were more on the surprising side. American Crime was most likely renewed due to critical acclaim and Galavant was renewed most likely due to music sales, because both shows got poor ratings. Agent Carter didn't get as poor of ratings, and the fact that it is a Marvel show helped. How far can these three shows fall to get them canceled? It's a question that will be difficult for us to answer. Secrets & Lies is another show in its second season that isn't so sure to get a third. Last season, it started at a rating that made it look like it would be canceled, but it grew throughout the season and ended up with high enough ratings to be renewed. However, in season two the show will have a new co-star opposite Juliette Lewis and is planned to air in a new timeslot. This could negatively affect the ratings. Nashville is another show that is probably worried about its future. It will be airing its forth full season this year, bringing it to enough episodes for syndication. The ratings have been mediocre in season three, so most likely the things that might get it a season five are music sales and syndication money.

Looking farther ahead, there are a few questions I have about what ABC's 2016-17 schedule will look like. The first is about Friday comedies. I predict that Last Man Standing will not return to ABC, so what will ABC do on Fridays? ABC is definitely going to still have four hours of comedy, and I don't see them putting an hour anywhere else on their schedule. So what comedies will go there? At least one returning comedy will go there, maybe two. I think two will go there, and I'm predicting Fresh Off the Boat and Black-ish. Those two are most likely going to be the lowest rated of the six comedies they renew. Another day that's scheduling could be interesting is Thursday. If The Catch gets a full second season, will it stay on Thursday, or will it move to another day? Two other returning dramas that could end up moving are Agents of SHIELD and Nashville (if it is renewed). Both shows get mediocre ratings, especially Nashville, and SHIELD is falling. Could SHIELD move to 10:00? Could either show move to Sunday? I think either is very possible.

The Middle and Modern Family don't have many more seasons left in them, they will both be entering season seven this fall. After they end, what comedies will be ABC's dependable veterans? I think that The Muppets and The Goldbergs will take over. The Muppets looks like it will be a hit, and The Goldbergs is going to be in its third season this fall and it has been growing out of its lead-in of The Middle regularly. ABC's comedy future looks a lot better than most networks'.

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