Friday, August 16, 2013

The War of 18-49, The Middle



THE MIDDLE (ABC)

Scheduling history: The Middle began at 8:30 on Wednesdays, as the second of ABC's fall 2009 Wednesday night of all new programs. Though its lead-in Hank lasted just five episodes, The Middle stayed at 8:30 (mostly leading out of Modern Family repeats) till the end of season one, then moved to the 8:00 lead-off role in season two. It spent six years there before making the move to Tuesday at 8/7c in season eight.

See (who saw) how it all began: ABC didn't roll out the aforementioned all-brand new Wednesday at once. The Middle and its lead-in Hank arrived in week two of the season. The Middle was immediately the more promising of the two, pulling a 2.6 demo and building on its Hank lead-in's 2.1. Both shows took a significant drop in week two, Hank to 1.6 and The Middle to 2.1. Hank dipped south of 1.5 by episode five and was pulled from the sked, but The Middle pretty much held at that low-2's level for most of the rest of season one. It occasionally showed some promise in its early 2010 episodes, getting as high as a 2.9 on 2/10/10.

The best of times: The Middle hasn't grown as significantly as its Emmy-drenched peer Modern Family, but it still had a raw numbers uptick in seasons two and three. Its strongest raw level was in the fall 2011 when it consistently settled right around a 3.0, and it got as high as a 3.2 demo on 10/26/11. On a historical-adjusted basis, season six was the best yet, as the show's raw numbers dropped just 3% year-to-year, and season seven set another new high.

The worst of times: The Middle was definitely at its least valuable in season one, and the raw series low long remained the 1.7 Thanksgiving Eve airing on 11/25/09. It finally hit its first new series low since season one with a 1.6 on 5/7/14, but repeated it just once more in 2014-15 (on 12/3/14), and then only a couple more times at the very end of season seven (5/11/16 and 5/18/16). The move to Tuesday finally brought a slew of new raw lows, but it was still Middle's second-biggest season in A18-49+.

Then vs. now: ABC Wednesday in 2014-15 was the network's strongest two-hour comedy block since long before the current generation came around, and at the start of it was a very good season from veteran The Middle. The network had far more year-to-year timeslot improvement with The Goldbergs at 8:30 and Black-ish at 9:30, and Modern Family of course remained the highest-rated of them all. But The Middle was quietly a big winner itself, and the wins continued into the block's second season in 2015-16. Season eight saw The Middle finally leave Wednesday night after seven seasons, but it held up well enough to create major timeslot improvement on Tuesday.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

SeasYearSlotAvgy2yLoHiResultsGrade
12009-10Wednesday 8:302.271.72.9detail
22010-11Wednesday 8:002.44+7%1.83.0detail
32011-122.60+6%1.93.2detail
42012-132.27-13%1.82.9detail
52013-142.06-9%1.62.5detailB
62014-152.00-3%1.62.3detailA-
72015-161.88-6%1.62.2detailB+
82016-17Tuesday 8:001.50-20%1.21.8detailB
92017-18Tue 8:00, Tue 8:301.44-4%1.12.2detailB

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

SeasYearA18-49+LabelNow18y2yLoHiPremiereFinale
12009-1081marginal0.89601039289
22010-1196marginal1.05+19%7111810687
32011-12110solid1.20+15%8013513185
42012-13108solid1.18-2%8513813895
52013-14109solid1.20+1%85133133111
62014-15119solid1.30+9%95137125107
72015-16129hit1.41+9%110151144110
82016-17122solid1.34-5%9814714798
92017-18132hit1.44+8%103200147153

AVERAGE:112solid
CAREER:1005star



The War of 18-49 chronicles the ratings history of veteran primetime series. For more, see the Index.

3 comments:

Spot said...

I agree that The Middle seems like the type of show that will syndicate well (targetting an older middle-American audience) and get a first-run ratings boost as a result.

It has always been a solid performer but it has flied under the radar somewhat, never quite getting enough exposure to break out. Syndication might change that. I mean, the show has never even had a half-decent lead-in.

Spot said...

I think it is impressive how well the middle has been holding up throughout the years. I think it will benefit from syndication more than MF actually.

Spot said...

The Middle never really had the same ceiling as Modern Family, because it didn't have the same hook. MF had the "typical couple and kids" that TM had, but added a multi-racial May-December marriage and a gay couple. It almost feels like three intertwined shows in one when it's going well.

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