Wednesday, May 9, 2018

2018 Upfront Questions: ABC

Part two of the upfront preview is the SCHEDULE-centric portion, examining the big-picture scheduling questions each network faces on each night in the final week before its upfront.

On each night, you can see the network's average 2017-18 ratings with its most frequent occupant in three different sub-sections of the year: "fall" (premiere week through December 31), "winter" (January 1 to the beginning of Daylight Saving Time) and "spring" (the start of DST through Thursday, May 3). You can also switch from the A18-49 ratings to the True ratings, which should make the comparisons across nights and across the season a bit more fair.

Last week's Renewology was the SHOW-centric portion, drilling more into the merits of individual shows: ABC Renewology

More Upfront Questions: NBC | Fox | ABC | CBS | CW


fallDancing with the StarsThe Good Doctor1.57
winterThe BachelorThe Good Doctor1.70
springAmerican IdolThe Crossing1.28

Question: Will The Good Doctor go somewhere else?

I almost feel like the magnitude of The Good Doctor's success got kinda taken for granted in the latter part of the season. Maybe it was the psychology of it not building so huge on its lead-ins anymore. But this show was a stunning achievement for a 10/9c drama in this day and age, and ABC has to at least ask the question: can this thing be taken into even another stratosphere? Should it be launching new shows?

None of the 9/8c hours are so huge that it would be moving heaven and earth to put Good Doc there, but none of them feel like a perfect fit either. You could have just one reality hour (or zero?) on Monday. You could kill the second comedy hour on Roseanne Tuesday. You could maybe pair up Goldbergs and Modern Family on Wednesday at 8/7c and throw Good Doc at 9/8c. (I actually kinda like this one since Modern may only have one year left anyway.) Or you could pair it up with Grey's on Thursday, I guess. There are issues with all of these, but a few of them are not that ludicrous. "Wasting" it on Monday at 10/9c is also less than ideal, but I would make that the odds-on favorite just because none of the alternatives really jump out. Maybe there will be a more obvious opening next season.


fallThe MiddleFresh Off the BoatBlack-ishThe MayorKevin (Probably) Saves the World0.97
winterThe MiddleFresh Off the BoatBlack-ishModern Family (R)Kevin (Probably) Saves the World0.87
springRoseanneThe MiddleBlack-ishSplitting Up TogetherFor the People1.61

Question: What basks in the glow of Roseanne?

It's been pretty clear that ABC did not expect anything like what they've gotten from Roseanne on Tuesday, devoting these enormous lead-ins for the first go-round to veteran comedies (plus an ill-fated special airing of Alex, Inc.). So the upfront is gonna be our first chance to see what ABC can come up with when they have a chance to plan for Roseanne being huge. I actually wonder if it might be worthwhile to consider re-flipping American Housewife and Black-ish, because Housewife seems like one of the most compatible options among the ABC veterans. It could benefit from that aura even if it's indirectly. Splitting Up Together is also worth bringing back. And there should probably be a newbie involved as well.


fallThe GoldbergsSpeechlessModern FamilyAmerican HousewifeDesignated Survivor1.22
winterThe GoldbergsSpeechlessModern FamilyAmerican HousewifeMatch Game1.13
springThe GoldbergsAlex, Inc.Modern FamilyAmerican HousewifeDesignated Survivor0.99

Question: How hard will ABC try to turn around a fading Wednesday?

The year-to-year comparisons have been fairly bad for the long-proud Wednesday lineup all year, and it's become even more overshadowed late in the season with Roseanne's breakout. They pretty much have to ride The Goldbergs and Modern Family for this one more year, so there aren't going to be wholesale changes, but at the very least they can make an effort to improve at 10/9c somehow.


fallGrey's AnatomyScandalHow to Get Away with Murder1.38
winterGrey's AnatomyScandalHow to Get Away with Murder1.43
springGrey's AnatomyStation 19Scandal1.24

Question: Can the TGIT brand endure in a post-Scandal world?

With Shonda Rhimes now developing for Netflix, the Shondaland pipeline is going to dry up, and her presence may be reduced sooner rather than later if How to Get Away with Murder is near the end of the road. I would think the network can still go full-steam ahead with TGIT with a Grey's Anatomy / Station 19 / Murder night, and Station 19 has done well enough to warrant a good shot in the fall. So I guess this question is more for late in the season when Murder is over. Is there a chance ABC chooses For the People as its pity renewal and tries to keep the TGIT label alive for another full season?


fallOnce Upon a TimeInhumans20/200.57
winterChild SupportAgents of SHIELD20/200.68
springOnce Upon a TimeAgents of SHIELD20/200.46

Question: Will ABC put forth more effort to get first-run ratings on Friday?

I guess they could try to get a procedural or something going on Friday, but the two obvious choices are: 1) return to unscripted with Shark Tank; or 2) add in a comedy hour with some of the lower-tier returnees like Speechless and/or Fresh Off the Boat. It didn't take very much of this year's Friday plan for ABC to decide they were through with Once Upon a Time, so I would think they are going to try something beyond a drama syndication factory. The unscripted worked well on Sunday, but there's the added benefit to 20/20 that makes unscripted on Friday more compelling. 


fallAmerica's Funniest Home VideosShark TankTen Days in the Valley0.81
winterAmerica's Funniest Home VideosShark Tank1.07
springAmerican IdolDeception1.33

Question: Will Sunday in the fall remain a holding pattern?

See Friday. Scripted shows with 22+ episodes are nice on Friday just because they can run for the full season there and without having to work around event season, but the arrangement this year kinda squandered Shark Tank. Sunday at 10/9c seems like a nice place to bury a back end-friendly drama like Designated Survivor, but the Alec Baldwin talk show is headed to Sunday at some point, according to the title of the program. Like last year, what goes to Friday and what to Sunday is not a terribly high-stakes decision, unless the network does something more seismic like move Dancing with the Stars to Sunday.

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