Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The War of 18-49, The Goldbergs

A SHIELD Lead-Out Rookie

ABC had such high hopes for its new drama Agents of SHIELD that it built an entire three-hour night of new series around it. After the predictably huge 4.7 SHIELD premiere, The Goldbergs hung on to a very solid 3.1 on its September 24, 2013 premiere night. But it was not out of the woods yet; it took a huge drop to 2.2 in week two, then got whacked again to 1.9 and 1.6 the next two weeks. Some of that could be blamed on SHIELD's own drops, but Goldbergs was actually down a lot more by percentage than SHIELD itself in those opening weeks.

Fortunately, that week four 1.6 was pretty much the end of Goldbergs' weakening, and it would linger around that territory for most of the rest of the season, even as SHIELD continued eroding toward the vicinity of 2.0. While the 9:30 comedy Trophy Wife and 10:00 drama Lucky 7 lasted just one season, SHIELD's direct lead-out The Goldbergs had showed enough promise to pull through, even if it was still below the league average in that first season.

The Move to Wednesday

Not only did it pull through, but ABC gave it a major timeslot upgrade for season two: the hammock between The Middle and Modern Family on Wednesday. There were good signs about this move even in the summer of 2014, when its repeats would fully retain or build on The Middle. And it was able to turn that into consistent growth from The Middle even during original season. It stayed in the low-2's through most of season two and fell into a 2.0ish range after DST. Fitting in that well with the Wednesday veterans made for a tremendous sophomore bounce, averaging 30% higher than the raw ratings from season one.

The Goldbergs' move to Wednesday led into a banner year for the entire 8:00 hour, with veteran The Middle also upticking to its highest historical-adjusted ratings ever. And both shows managed to get even stronger in 2015-16; The Middle had its first 'hit'-level season, while The Goldbergs hovered around 2.0 all season and ticked up to another new high in A18-49+.

Leading Off the Night

The network had so many riches on Wednesday that they opted to spread some of the wealth to another night at the 2016 upfront. Veteran The Middle went to Tuesday, while The Goldbergs was left to lead off the night for the first time. That downgrade stopped Goldbergs' growth streak, but it also didn't hurt either; The Goldbergs exactly maintained its 140 A18-49+ from season three. It was a year of huge league average decline, but breaking even while moving out of that protected hammock was an impressive accomplishment. And it worked out nicely for the network as a whole; both The Middle and The Goldbergs launched successful newbie lead-outs (American Housewife and Speechless, respectively) in their new 8:00 homes.

The Goldbergs stayed close to its A18-49+ peak for basically four years, and to a slightly lesser extent even in season six, but season seven brought the first period of drastic decline. It went below 1.0 for the first time in October 2019 and stayed there for most of the rest of the season, bouncing back only at the start of the COVID-19 lockdown period in March. However, the show has pretty much stayed at that level in seasons eight and nine, allowing it to stick around on the schedule.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

12013-14Tuesday 9:001.681.33.1detail
22014-15Wednesday 8:302.18+30%1.72.5detail
42016-17Wednesday 8:001.70-16%1.32.0detailB+
102022-23Wednesday 8:300.36-33%0.30.4detailC

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:



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

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