Roseanne Pushes ABC Into 3rd Place for the Season to Date

Written Heralding a Turnaround by Bridger Cunningham

2018 is ABC's year to shine, as the trailing network managed to wriggle its season-to-date average back to 3rd Place tied with FOX.  Currently, ABC is tied for 3rd with FOX in the key 18-49 demo with a 1.5, bested in 2nd place by CBS with a 1.6 average.  Leading in 1st Place is NBC with a 2.4 average, and CW trails the English language channels with a 0.6 in 5th.  ABC's victory marks the first time in over two years the network's demo average reached 3rd Place.  An impressive feat as the network is handicapped with a lack of NFL and Olympic coverage, which is known for bolstering the other three major network's seasonal performance.

How did ABC manage this windfall?  Though it was predicted HERE on December 26, 2017 the network could see a spring rebound, Roseanne's blockbuster delivery coupled with several strong shows propelled the network into an upswing after a depressed 2017 performance.  Roseanne returned to the network after a 21-year absence on March 27 to an impressive 5.2 double helping, easily carving a place as one of this season's top 10 programs as well as the highest-rated sitcom.  The third outing of Roseanne cooled to a 3.9 the following week, once again winning the week at a 75% retention of its outlandish debut rating.  The sitcom has yet to level to its ratings plateau despite earning an early renewal, so stay tuned to see if it will continue to bolster the network.

At the current trajectory, tying or overtaking CBS for 2nd Place is well within the cards.  All networks exhibit drops in Nielsen performance between March-May, and seven weeks remain of the season to report.  Those Nielsen drops include ABC, whose weekly schedule has been lashed with the same drops as the other networks.  Roseanne led ABC to a strong rebound, but other series are playing their part.  The sitcoms following Roseanne all ranged from 1.4-2.2 for the evening of April 3, adding to ABC's honeypot.  American Idol has premiered modest to above average, bolstering the sagging Sunday evenings with 1.4-2.3 ratings between March 11 - April 1.  A massive improvement, considering the network struggled to clear the 1.0 bar for eons over the last two seasons.

These 2018 additions gave ABC ground to climb, but several shows provided a leg up during a tough season.  Grey's Anatomy delivered a strong 14th season on Thursdays, as well as fall newbie The Good Doctor colonized the troubled Monday 10:00 timeslot with strong results between 1.3-2.2.  Dancing With the Stars and The Bachelor exhibited sturdy seasons, and shows strewn throughout the schedule supported.  The 2017 calendar year proved difficult for the network as The Good Doctor remained the lone success among newbies until March.  The network's prized Wednesday comedy block experienced declines after 3 solid years, and the Tuesday comedy block was all but in ruins.  The network was due for a rainclean in Spring, and it has arrived in trend with revivals.

Like the revivals trend of this decade, ABC is reviving its trend of performance from the 1987-88 season.  As profiled in this article showcasing The Schedule as We Knew It from that season, ABC exhibited a soft 1987 due to a plethora of underperforming sitcoms, including Full House!  Add Superbowl XXII to the January lineup, and ABC's fortunes changed.  The Wonder Years experienced a strong debut, and the network wisely split the winning Who's The Boss/Growing Pains combo to help sitcoms develop.  Such moves allotted strong sitcom performances on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday evenings, as well as open the 9:00 timeslot the following fall for Roseanne to make its initial debut.  The WGA Writer's strike damaged the television landscape in between, enabling ABC to cement its 2nd place after reclaiming the honor in Spring 1988. 

Could the same upbeat fortunes follow ABC into fall 2018?  Stay tuned and watch the action unfold in the season's remaining weeks.


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