2017-18 Week 26 Scorecard -- More Lows, Rebounds, and FOTB and Speechless Leave The Radar

Written Ready For Sitcom Changes by Bridger Cunningham

Springtime is thawing television's icy structure as the anticipated doldrums are breaking the patterns of last year.  Unilateral drops seemed to be the trend for 2017 with every show continually descending.  However, a few shows are standing out with impressive rebounds -- Bob's Burgers, The Middle, Speechless, The Goldbergs, Modern Family and American Housewife.  It was indeed an excellent week to be an ABC sitcom, as all enjoyed the spoils vs. spoiling.  Given American Idol is still performing above average, the network as a whole seems to be enjoying a welcome reprieve from the tone of the last three years.

Sunday, March 18 delivered an odd dynamic for FOX.  Bob's Burgers (0.8) held steady, while the Simpsons (0.8) not only hemorrhaged 2.5 points of their last Football-Inflated January installment.  But it also struck a new series low.  Brooklyn 99 (0.9) enjoyed a healthy three-tenth bump and is establishing itself nicely on Sundays again after dreadful Tuesdays in Autumn.  Family Guy (1.0) delivered a sturdy helping, only dropping eight-tenths of its last January performance, and Last Man On Earth (0.7)  kept all but a half-point of its last January performance.

Tying lows was the theme on Monday, March 19 as Kevin Can Wait (1.0), Man With a Plan (0.9), and Superior Donuts (0.8) all shed a tenth, while Living Biblically (0.7) continued to tie its low.  Tuesday, March 20 spelled dynamic changes for ABC and FOX.  The Middle (1.4) bounced back three tenths, Fresh Off The Boat (1.0) bowed out a tenth ahead, and Black-ish (1.1) gained two-tenths from its last two showings.  Over at FOX, having no lead-in left LA>Vegas (0.7) barely tying its low, and The Mick (0.7) bounced back and narrowly outrated its lead-in.

And Wednesday, March 21 resembled a fall delivery.  The Goldbergs (1.6) ticked up a tenth, and Speechless (1.2) bowed out three tenths higher than its last two outings.  Modern Family (1.7) followed the same trajectory after underperforming to The Goldberg's in Week 24, and American Housewife (1.3) enjoyed the same three-tenth renaissance.

Please note due to a Vegas venture, The Sitcom Scorecard will lump Thursday, March 22's ratings into Week 27's report.

So what is going on with the four networks displaying sitcoms?  Let's break this down network by network:

As predicted, ABC is making a welcome comeback and has retired Speechless and FOTB early to make space for three debuting sitcoms.  American Idol's rebound has paved the way for its surrounds to enjoy higher ratings.  And history has proven ABC has held the highest track record of mid-season successes.  The Goldbergs and Modern Family are doing great and should have few to no problems.  The remains, however, clearly need ideal real estate to succeed.  American Housewife narrowly outperforms Speechless on Wednesdays, as proven when both have been forced to stand on their own without a strong lead.  American Housewife will be back, and Speechless is more than likely returning as its 2018 numbers vs. the 2017 deliveries.
Black-ish has delivered a disappointing 4th season, as displayed by Week 25's poorly delivered double helping.  It is perhaps not as sturdy as ABC anticipated.  And FOTB?  The show can be plugged in any timeslot and perform the same.  Roseanne is anticipated to be spring's strongest contender, while Alex, Inc holds the best timeslot for a newbie to grow.  Splitting Up Together has a long road ahead of it as the Tuesday 9:30 timeslot has dispensed too many sitcoms to count.  If the series can stay above a 0.8, ABC may take compassion.  After all, The Middle is leaving us, on top.  ABC seems to be copying NBC's notes on time-sharing its sitcoms over limited space.  And the network holds expansion space as dramas have a 40-percent success rate.
Thursdays are stellar as The Big Bang Theory, Young Sheldon and Mom have belted their competition.  Even Life in Pieces enjoyed a sturdier 3rd season leading out of Mom's rebound.  The Monday roster, however, leaves much to be desired.  KCW is a modest success, just as MWAP is.  Superior Donuts struggles then strides, and anything in the 9:30 timeslot is disposable.
What could CBS do next year as Mondays need tuning?  Many argue against breaking up the Thursday block as it is rumored TBBT ends next season, and Young Sheldon will likely take the reigns.  If Mom gets moved to Mondays, will it regress?  LIP may be another candidate to move, and CBS will likely bench SD if it chooses to renew it, using it to plug fall's failures in new sitcoms.  The network needs to spruce up its Monday franchise, or else it may be piecemealed again like it was between 2014-16.  Bless the mediocre drama yield CBS has, as sitcom space could be reduced otherwise.
Unlike ABC and CBS, FOX has enjoyed the spoils of successful new dramas in the 2010's.  The Resident, 9-1-1, Star, Lethal Weapon, The Orville and Empire all succeed in their respective timeslots.  The sitcoms, however, have a different story.  Sundays enjoy an early seasonal victory, while Tuesdays have delivered soft results since 2014.  Add FOX acquiring Thursday Night Football in its 11-week entirety and having no 10pm timeslots means FOX's space is a premium and the Tuesday laughers could cease or move to Fridays.
Peek at the colored chart and notice several shows' statuses were downgraded.  This is due to the scheduling conundrum next fall, and too many shows are just "there."  Ghosted was spared this downgrade due to absentia.  But the rest are weak.  The Mick enjoyed a mild rebound and bested LA>Vegas this week, but it struggles.  LMOE sits pretty in its timeslot, but FOX could decide to end the series if space is needed.  And even B99 experienced a welcome rebound this week and is not circling the drain as anticipated.  FOX' pallet is questionable at best and will be a true deciding factor come May.
NBC has already renewed winners The Good Place, Superstore and Will & Grace.  The schedule's remains are all fighting to be seen and heard on the ratings radar.  Great News tanked a prime lead-in.  AP Bio demonstrated some sturdiness, and Champions appears to be toast.  Yet to premiere is Trial & Error, which has no declared schedule space.
NBC wisely innovated its resurging Must-See-TV block to truncate episode orders for sitcoms, and it has worked to a great degree.  Would NBC pare down all of its underperforming sitcoms and start anew?  The network has done stranger things.
Status Changes
Last Man On Earth -- As discussed above, scheduling space lowers the odds of LMOE being renewed.  Ratings have not dropped, but they were already low.  A downgrade from 80% (Likely Renewal) to 70% (Leans Renewal) has been declared.
 LA>Vegas -- This week's outing not only underperformed follow-up The Mick, but also demonstrated the series needs a stronger lead-in to distinguish itself.  Scheduling space is working against FOX'  latest series as it has yet to be shopped around on Sundays.  A downgrade from 55% (On the Bubble, Leans Renewal) to 45% (On the Bubble, Leans Cancellation) depicts nearly striking a series low.

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