Week 31 Sitcom Ratings Scorecard -- The ABC's of Renewal

Written with Exemptions by Bridger Cunningham

Tax week is upon the masses in America.  Unlike TV networks, tax paying Americans wish their figures were in fractions.  Week 31 involved three evenings of sitcoms to report, as FOX took Sunday to worship its reruns, Wednesday laughers wisely avoided spring doldrums, and ABC threw its sitcoms into its latest toy box after Last Man Standing and Dr. Ken concluded their runs in week 29.  Several series lows registered.  Rather than discuss, examine them with the red highlights in the table.  The Big Bang took another hit, yet rules its fellow sitcoms by a (narrow) solid point.  Further down the "Leading the Pack" classification an interesting dynamic formed as 5th Place Kevin Can Wait and 6th Place Speechless are .04 apart in space.  It was previously assumed KCW would keep its nickle placing, but this week's red registry, coupled with Speechless' absent performance, narrowed the gap to .04 before the two shows meet neck to neck.  The 7th/8th Place and 9th/10th place jockeying continued, as the Middle slid to 8th place, and American Housewife and The Great indoors continue to determine who belongs in 9th Place.  Both dropped below the 1.50 mark, which would have downgraded them to The Middle of the Pack weeks ago under old standards.  However, the are in unison in trend with other shows delivering soft numbers.

Mom remains in the delta of "Leading the Pack" in 11th place, where it will finish the season.  Impressively, it bested its "Lead In", if you would like to refer to a show who could not retain half of the Big Bang's soft numbers.  Mom will need to finish the remaining episodes with a 1.3 in order to finish in "Leading the Pack."  0.11 down, the next original entry went to 2BG, who now reside at 1.31 and will likely tick down slightly with the Season/Series finale next week.  Man with a Plan and Life in Pieces are tied again as LIP delivered a little stronger, and Superior Donuts' average it trending toward the ever-sturdy Fresh Off the Boat.  FOTB has proven its value during the spring doldrums, delivering a contained 1.1 rating.  Perhaps people do care, which is why this show is needed on the schedule next year.  And The Mick now resides in the delta of "The Middle of The Pack," where it will likely finish out the season.  The Anemic range received another entry as Imaginary Mary now holds a 1.03 average.  

Bigger news came in an announcement that The Odd Couple is likely cancelled, and Brooklyn 99 ticked below the 1.00 mark with a soft return.  Trial and Error endured significant damage, dropping .06.  And the Ratings Abyss?  Only one show losing a tiny portion of viewing.  Of what is left of their ratings.  CBS has continually ruled the Nielsens among the 33 sitcoms that have currently aired, yet ABC served us the greatest variety of alphabet soup full of sitcom meatballs.  ABC served us one-third of our current sitcom helpings for the season with 11 entries for the 2016-17 season, with the majority of its letters predicted for renewal. Let's run down the letters ABC holds in its schedule soup:

"A" for Aesthetic "American Housewife" -- ABC Tuesdays left little to write home about until it took a bold risk and moved The Middle to Tuesdays, pairing it with tepidly reviewed American Housewife.  A fitting word, as the Middle itself was labeled "tepid" during its freshman year and repeatedly defied the odds.  Tuesdays were anticipated to repeat its Tire Fire schedule, yet American Housewife carved out a crass following, narrowly besting The Middle during the fall.  The configuration switched as the season went on, but American Housewife has successfully stabilized another "tepid" night.  American Housewife is predicted for 100-percent renewal as it improved The Real O'Neals and FOTB's previous demo performance in the 8:30 timeslot against NBC's "The Voice".  ABC may emphasize its option in sliding American Housewife to 9pm leaving it in the throws of NBC's juggernaut "This Is Us" to allow a new pilot to test its abilities, but American Housewife has earned its renewal as it is appealing and flexible.

"B" for Bemusing "blackish" -- Limit pushing is no stranger to critically lauded blackish takes on racy topics, as well as issues ripped from the headlines.  What blackish does not push is the threshold of acceptable ratings, delivering sizable retention out of previous mega hit and demonstrates trends independent of MF.  blackish should have been moved off the evening as it holds a sturdiness ABC needs, but strategists foresee blackish may be a suitable replacement if MF decides to check out next season.

"D" for Dogged "Dr. Ken" -- Several have predicted cancellation for the Friday laugh factory, which remained the last place sitcom among its sitcom competition.  However, it serves a sturdy purpose and is not ABC's weakest show.  Dr. Ken's timeslot has endured high turnover, being the first series in that space to survive two seasons in the space.  Its average is .06 lower than The Real O'Neals, which had a slight upgrade on Tuesdays and 15 less showings to get to the syndication mark.  Dr. Ken remains a 70-percent chance of renewal, as it plugs the hole in ABC's least desirable timeslot.

"F" for Familiar "Fresh Off the Boat" -- Renewal is a surefire guarantee after 2017's silent spring, due to the magic 1.1 number.  FOTB has been dubbed "the show no one cares about", yet someone is watching.  Standing against NBC megahit This is Us, FOTB's numbers were mediocre.  However, they received a special Wednesday 8pm timeslot, delivering within a respectable retention of the Goldberg's with a 1.5.  FOTB's underappreciated presence shined as its fellow shows flopped.  A move next season is imminent, as its sturdy presence is needed to settle several undesirable timeslots.  Tuesdays at 9:30 are foreshadowed as the Huang's new home, and a 100-percent renewal is well-earned.

"G" for Glamorous "Goldberg's" -- Reality is a stranger for this 80's time bubble show, who is slowly gaining momentum to become ABC's leader of laughs.  Its stylish delivery gives us material based on everyday life such as snow days, cooking and overbearing parents.  It has earned its right to take over the 8pm Wednesday timeslot, and now enters syndication this fall.  A new wave of viewers is bound to check out this glamorous sendup to life as the Gen X'ers knew it as kids.  And it has yet to return to its series low 1.3 during the Spring Doldrums, demonstrating the viewers are there.

"H" for a Heck of a "Middle" -- The Middle will be back next season for a 9th run, and is well-deserved.  ABC sacrificed this long-running sitcom by moving it to Tuesday, and the gamble worked in their favor.  The early renewal also showed realistic cast and production expectations, without the hubris of high salaries and licensing fees of a veteran show.  And another move is off the table, as the Middle once again rules its evening.

"I" for Incognito "Imaginary Mary" -- The odds are leaning against this mid-season entry, who had their episode order slashed to nine episodes.  It had, however, delivered on par with the previous 9:30 tenant, not only increasing its value but diminishing The Real O'Neal's.  But the previous tenant also aired against megahit This is Us and has 29 completed episodes vs. 9 for the show that didn't stand a chance.  Prediction for renewal is placed at 45%, as there is some potential for this Anemic dweller.

"L" for Lucid "Last Man Standing" -- Everyone eagerly awaits the renewal of this outstanding Friday entry, who often rules their timeslot.  Ratings alone, it has earned its place to return, but it may be the last to be announced by previous trends.  Therefore, it is only predicted for a 90-percent renewal, as it is almost there.  The higher ups need to figure out the last 10-percent.

"M" for Middling "Modern Family" -- A previous "megahit", the Spring Doldrums changed the dynamics as ABC's tentpole regularly dropped below 2.0 this spring.  Ratings are still respectable, but the bloated cast has less room for higher salary demands and production values.  Like the L factor, it is at 90-percent as it is almost there, but stubbornly wading through behind the scenes negotiations.

"R" for Ranching "The Real O'Neal's" -- Is there hope for this In-House ranch to survive?  Only time will tell, as the odds of making it out of the pasture alive are slim.  The show has grown to its largest form in the sophomore year and only stands a chance to return if ABC decides to expand its sitcom roster by another hour.  This veal will have to be moved, as it shows it does not have the strength to deliver reliable Nielsens at 9:30 on Tuesdays.  While this is a less-desired timeslot, Imaginary Mary has matched its performance, and neighboring FOTB proves it takes its viewers everywhere it goes.  It remains at a 20-percent renewal prediction.

"S" for Stylistic "Speechless" -- A show dedicated to exploring disabilities without preaching as much as blackish?  ABC found a stylish hit in the Minnie Driver vehicle, which kept up with the demo pace of Wednesday evenings.  Anyone who questions if it will be renewed needs to cruise further down the renewal table, where ABC has three resident sitcoms in the anemic range.  They will surely go first before ABC's 3rd highest sitcom, which is nipping at the heels of CBS' Kevin Can Wait for finishing the season the 5th Place sitcom of 2016-17.

Scorecard News:

Changes and errors are familiar to this article.  An observant writer called out Bob's Burgers receiving a series low 0.6 in 2013, not a 0.8 in 2016.  Also, the classifications have been updated in title.  During week 20, when this edition was titled "The Sitcom, Explained by Bridger Cunningham".  Bridger Cunningham belonged in the snarky by-line, so the title successfully updated to the Week 20/21 Sitcom Scorecard.  The three classifications broke down 1st-10th Places as Top 10/The Winners, 11th-22nd Places were known as "The Middle of the Plack/Respectable," and 23rd-30th Places were titled "Anemic".  

Week 22 debuted the colorized table and titles were updated.  "Top 10/The Winners" simplified to "The Winners", as that week held 11 contenders above the 1.50 requirement.  Then it shifted to "Demos in Demand" as The Great Indoors' percent renewal downgraded to 55%.  And now, it changes to "Leading the Pack".  Current Nielsen registers would only have 8 entries, so change was necessary.  And the Deltas may inch downward depending on Mom and The Mick's performance in their respective ranges.

Also changing is the recently debuted "Circling the Drain".  The two contenders brought down the Anemic range, yet the title was harsh, as Making History has some renewal hope. Therefore, the last classification is known as "The Ratings Abyss".  Appropriately depicting the abysmal ratings, yet not calling these two shows dead.  

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