ABC Comedy Parts 6+7: The Wednesday Rebound and What's Next

ABC righted a wrong when they decided to move The Goldbergs to 8:30. They also premiered Blackish at 9:30, the first family comedy ever to air after Modern Family. For the first time, ABC had a comedy night consisting solely of family comedies. With it, we found out that compatibility truly does matter. The Middle and Modern Family both became extremely steady, with The Goldbergs being the second comedy ever to improve upon its 8pm lead-in, and Blackish holding onto enough of Modern Family to stay in the range of both The Middle and The Goldbergs. The comedies fit together as a glove, and for the first time since the comedy block began in 2009, all four comedies aired full seasons there, with no other comedies airing on Wednesday outside of the premiere of Fresh Off The Boat.

ABC Still Figuring Out Tuesday…

Despite the newfound all-around success of ABC Wednesday, it surprised few people that the Selfie-Manhattan Love Story Tuesday duo flopped. Both hit levels that went as low or even lower than Trophy Wife, and both were down significantly from the fall numbers seen by The Goldbergs and Trophy Wife the season before. When they were quickly pulled from the schedule, ABC filled the time slot temporarily with Shark Tank, which not only improved on the time slot, but also improved upon what it did there a few years prior when it was its regular time slot.

Things got tricky midseason. ABC only had one comedy with a midseason premiere date, Fresh Off The Boat, but had two comedy spots to fill. So what they did was quietly pick up reality filler Repeat After Me. The latter did not do well at all, typically being at the 1.0 range, but the former surprised as a moderate success. The ratings did fall significantly from its Wednesday premiere, but were good enough for a renewal considering the circumstances (only Tuesday comedy to proved ok numbers that season, had to face The Voice and typical Daylight Savings Time drops).

…And Friday

Like we have seen for the previous two seasons, ABC has been having trouble pairing something up with ok-for-Friday Last Man Standing. In the 2014-2015 season, they tried multi-cam Cristela. Like previous time slot occupants Malibu Country and The Neighbors, it performed well enough to warrant a full season, but not well enough to get a renewal. Meanwhile, Last Man Standing, which itself was on the bubble due to Tim Allen’s contract, held well enough to be renewed. Just like the breakout 2011-2012 season, ABC had every reason to renew six of their comedies.

Part 7: What’s Next?

It truly looks like ABC will have a strong comedy year next season. Of course, there are no guarantees here, but it seems like they finally figured out that compatibility is key. Tuesdays should improve, at least in the fall, with The Muppets leading off the night, which in turn should bring some more exposure to Fresh Off The Boat. They also kept the Wednesday comedy block as is, and the only show right now which is not reviewing too well is Dr. Ken, which already has a midseason replacement anyway. But although I predict ABC having a great season on the comedy side, it is more questionable what happens in the long run. The Middle and Modern Family must have two or three seasons left at best, meaning that others shows will have to take the baton. Could The Muppets be that show to take over for Modern Family? It is a family mockumentary show, after all. And could The Goldbergs be the next The Middle, all while Fresh Off The Boat and Blackish provide solid ratings as well? Time will tell, but there is one thing we can all learn: ABC’s comedy Wednesday experiment back in fall 2009 truly did pay off. Sure, there were some struggles along the way, but could you imagine a world when their top comedy struggled to hit a 1.0? It is hard to believe how relatively recent those days were.

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