The Goldbergs Breaks Modern Family’s 9-year Streak as ABC’s 1st Place Sitcom

Written Marveling Dynamic Changes by Bridger Cunningham.

Wednesday, March 7 made history for ABC, as The Goldbergs officially outrated former megahit Modern Family, ending a 434-week record with MF leading other ABC sitcoms, and 440 weeks including February 28's tied episodes.  Rounded math indicated this was the week Goldbergs (1.33) triumphed over MF (1.28), yet this week's glaring rounded tenths made the change noticeable (1.5 vs. 1.4).  This monumental moment marks not only a shift in the power dynamic in ABC sitcoms, but the downward acceleration of ABC's former champ.  Both series are renewed through 2019, respectively Goldberg's 6th season and MF's 10th.  Rumblings of MF ending have made rounds since January.

Although this development appears to be a tragic knell for Modern Family, it was due.  The series is almost through its 9th season and is due for decline.  That itself is an achievement, as the series reigned for 5 seasons as the 2nd place sitcom among the broadcast networks.  Like its competitor The Big Bang Theory (whom the show duked it out for the lead sitcom during the 2011-12 season), MF featured a large ensemble.  To state it accurately, MF's cast has been bloated since inception with an impressive record of no cast members exiting during that run.  Premises wear thin as the creativity wells dry, as both shows exhibited the starts of declines toward the end of their 7th seasons.  And now, The Goldbergs is poised to assume the lead position as the network's highest-rated sitcom.

Image result for big bang theory modern family

Modern Family launched a marginal hit in the 2009-10 season, scoring a 3.9 demo.  It grew throughout the 2010-11 season to a 4.5, before hitting its zenith in the 2011-12 season.  Look at the chronology of what followed when it peaked at the start of Season 3 (a special thanks in ratings data from

September 21, 2011: Modern Family's 3rd season premiere marked a series high at 6.1, placing third for the week behind new pilot premiere 2 Broke Girls (7.1) and the 9th season premiere of Two and a Half Men (10.7).  Note this was the hyped episode featuring the firing of Charlie Sheen and entry of Ashton Kutcher.
October 10, 2011: Two and a Half Men ties MF for the last time (5.5) and never outrates again.
January 11, 2012: The Big Bang Theory (5.3) outperforms Modern Family (5.1) for the first time.
May 9, 2012: Episode 3.21 marks the last time MF ties TBBT with a 4.4 rating.
May 16, 2012: Episode 3.22 exhibits the first time MF drops below the 4.0 mark since its first season with a 3.9 rating.
May 23, 2012: Season 3's finale closes with a 4.1 rating, finishing the season with a 5.1 ratings average as the 1st Place sitcom on the air, outranking Big Bang Theory (5.0).
September 26, 2012: Season 4 opens with a 5.5 rating, also the last episode MF would rank above the 5.0 line.
May 22, 2013: Season 4 closes with a 3.7 rating, finishing the season with a 4.3 live demo rating and the 2nd highest sitcom on the air.
October 16, 2013: Episode 5.05 marks the last rating entry above the 4.0 bar at 4.10.
December 4, 2013: Episode 5.09 makes a stark drop to 3.15, signaling wear and tear to come.
April 30, 2014: Episode 5.21 exhibits the series' first entry below the 3.0 bar with an alarming 2.85 entry.
May 21, 2014: Season 5's finale finishes with a 3.72 rating, closing up the season with a 3.54 season average.
May 20, 2015: Season 6's finale finishes with a disappointing 2.30, yet manages a 3.15 season average.
September 30, 2015: Season 7's second episode delivers the last rounded tenth delivery of 3.0 (2.96 unrounded) in the 3 range.
May 18, 2016: The 7th season's finale registers a 2.10, finishing the season with a 2.56 Nielsen average and is the 2nd highest sitcom on the air.
September 21, 2016: Modern Family marks its last entry above the 2.5 line with a 2.62 8th season premiere rating.
February 22, 2017: Modern Family drops below the 2.0 mark with a 1.98, shielded as a 2.0 when final ratings register.
March 8, 2017: Two weeks after narrowly grazing below the 2.0 mark, Modern Family officially drops below the mark with a 1.92 final rating.
May 17, 2017: The 8th season finale registers a 1.70 rating, finishing the season average at 2.10 and the 2nd highest sitcom on the air.
September 27, 2017: Modern Family registers its last entry above the 2.0 mark with its 2.12 9th season premiere.  For the first time since Season 4, MF is no longer the second-highest rated sitcom on the air, rotating between 4th and 5th highest among the sitcoms for the 2017-18 season.
February 28, 2018: Modern Family and Goldbergs tie in rounded tenths, yet Goldbergs registers a 1.33 and MF registers a 1.28 as its current series low.
March 7, 2018: The Goldbergs officially trumps Modern Family in rounded tenths, 1.5 vs. 1.4.  Currently, the season's average is 1.68 and is the 4th highest sitcom on the air.

What is to Come

Could The Goldbergs Finish the Season Ahead of Modern Family?
This remains unlikely, as MF outranks the Goldbergs in seasonal averages by a wide margin (1.68 vs. 1.52, as seen in Week 24's Sitcom Scorecard here).  The Goldbergs experienced a mild windfall during a harsh spring and itself could see harsher ratings in upcoming weeks.  The likeliness of Goldbergs overtaking MF at a higher frequency is likely though.
Would ABC Consider Moving Modern Family in the 2018-19 Season?
A moderate possibility, given the cast is speculating the series will end at Season 10, ABC may plug the series in the less desirable Tuesday timeslot.  The 9:00 hour always struggles against NBC's uber-powerful This Is Us, and ABC may open Wednesdays for more growth.  Given both Tuesday and Wednesday comedy blocks struggled this season vs. the last three years of ruling Wednesday, ABC may desire to shake things up.
What Does Modern Family's Decline Affect With Other Sitcoms?
MF's decline signaled it is no longer a launch for new shows.  Out of The Goldbergs' windfall, struggling Speechless outranked American Housewife for the first time this season (1.2 vs. 1.1).  Speechless' improvement against soft spring ratings increased the series' renewal value whilst diminishing American Housewife.  MF's decline also makes launching Alex, Inc post Goldbergs a wise decision, as this is the new launch timeslot.  It is open season on ABC's Wednesday comedy block with struggling sitcoms in peril for the first time since the dreadful 2013-14 season.
Could ABC Pare Down Its Sitcom Roster?
Sadly, this downfall increased the probability of ABC reducing its sitcom roster.  Network runner Channing Dugney shocked all when she cut the roster down last season amidst one of the strongest comedy seasons from 10 to 8.  If she decides to shop another drama as she leans toward this genre, either comedy block may be butchered.
Who Will the Next Runaway Hit Be?
At the moment, Goldbergs will be the network's strongest runner until the next hit launches.  And that could be for a number of years, considering how the genre struggled to locate a runaway hit for the entirety of the 2000's. 

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