Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Breakdown: ABC Thursday in 2015-16 (Grey's Anatomy, Scandal, HTGAWM, The Catch and more!)

It's time for a journey through the ABC Thursday schedule in 2015-16...


2014-15Grey's AnatomyScandalHow to Get Away with Murder173
2015-16Grey's AnatomyScandalHow to Get Away with Murder161 (-7%)
163 (+9%)173 (-7%)146 (-20%)

After a major meltdown late last season, Scandal had a rather impressive rebound in the fall, and was actually continuing to top its Grey's Anatomy lead-in until November. But it petered out into the low 2's as the fall progressed, still making for a down in Plus fall. Murder never really even had the brief resurrection, opening season two on a new low and dropping out of the 2's a little over a month later. As those shows struggled, Grey's Anatomy emerged as the overwhelming TGIT champ, with solid Plus gains year-to-year.


2014-15The TasteHow to Get Away with Murder (R)44
2015-16Beyond the TankMy Diet is Better Than Yours53 (+22%)
70 (+43%)45 (-9%)45 (+36%)

Beyond the Tank was the most credible piece of hiatus filler that ABC had in the winter. My Diet was not. It posted an even lower Plus than the weak final season of The Taste. But thanks to BTT, it was still a much-improved winter Thursday lineup.


2014-15Grey's AnatomyScandalAmerican Crime113
2015-16Grey's AnatomyScandalThe Catch108 (-4%)
145 (+8%)112 (-20%)67 (+4%)

Scandal's declines continued to intensify in the second half of the season, a pretty disheartening trend considering it actually had a big collapse at the end of last season as well. The Catch was a small improvement on last year's American Crime despite a much weaker Scandal lead-in. Granted, American Crime was so weak that it's not saying much. Grey's Anatomy was even more impressive in the spring, when it kept plugging away with high-single digits improvement despite getting compared against Patrick Dempsey's final episodes.

The Shows

Grey's Anatomy* hit+8%detail
How to Get Away with Murder1.41.872.6-37%129hit-27%detail
The Catch0.80.971.267flopdetail

Grey's Anatomy: This show not only had to soldier on without Patrick Dempsey, but it had to get compared with the huge year-ago episodes that surrounded his departure. To go +8% in Plus in that scenario is rather remarkable. I'd probably still go with only an A-... but then there's the fact that it pulled this off at the same time that its much younger TGIT teammates (and even the rest of the network in general) were melting down. That only illustrates how hard it is for Grey's to pull something like this off at this stage in the game. Grade: A. 

Scandal: It was actually impressive how it bounced back in the first month of the fall, but the declines accelerated later in the fall. And the second half of the season was a bonafide dud from the start. Grade: D+. I do wonder, though, if being held for January and getting an uninterrupted run with a lot of fanfare could benefit the show. (Seemed to work for New Girl...)

How to Get Away with Murder: Even with one of the strongest "limited series" ever, the limited series curse was real. And even though we think of it starting huge last season, like Scandal, its declines actually accelerated as the season progressed. It was down a ghastly 50%ish year-to-year at the end. I'm not giving it an F because its ratings were still pretty huge by 10/9c standards, but it may be tougher to pull that off next season with Scandal sitting out the fall. Grade: D.

The Catch: Lowest-rated newbie renewal of the season. There was some overreaction to the finale rating, and I didn't really see it as that bad a renewal before that. But after getting held off the fall sked, it may end up in the kind of timeslot where it's doomed to look like a bad renewal either way.

The names in this last table link to the shows' War of 18-49 pages. Links with an asterisk(*) have been updated with the new info. Updates to younger shows will come later in the summer.

Check back tomorrow for this day's new Schedules Plus! Till then, you can refer to the old version.

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