Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Breakdown: ABC Tuesday in 2017-18 (Roseanne, The Middle, Black-ish and more!)




It's time for a journey through the ABC Tuesday schedule in 2017-18...


fall

Year8:008:309:009:3010:0010:30Avg
2016-17The MiddleAmerican HousewifeFresh Off the BoatThe Real O'NealsAgents of SHIELD96
1271291037968
12891
2017-18The MiddleFresh Off the BoatBlack-ishThe MayorKevin (Probably) Saves the World89 (-7%)
123 (-3%)97 (-25%)105 (+2%)75 (-5%)66 (-3%)
110 (-14%)90 (-1%)
VsAvg+14%-16%-10%-4%
Rank6/1715/1713/1710/17

Black-ish was in and American Housewife was out on the new ABC Tuesday, and that left the network shy of its fall 2016 ratings when Housewife was looking great. Returnees The Middle and Fresh Off the Boat (even in a move to 8:30) were down from last fall in Plus, The Mayor was weaker than last year's cancelled The Real O'Neals, and 10/9c newbie Kevin (Probably) Saves the World was (while not as much of a bomb as some had predicted) also a bit shy of Agents of SHIELD. None of the declines were all that severe, but combining them with the big downgrade from Housewife to Black-ish resulted in a 7% slippage during this period.

winter

Year8:008:309:009:3010:0010:30Avg
2016-17The MiddleAmerican HousewifeFresh Off the BoatThe Real O'NealsAgents of SHIELD87
131121957252
12684
2017-18The MiddleFresh Off the BoatBlack-ishModern Family (R)Kevin (Probably) Saves the World80 (-9%)
121 (-7%)89 (-27%)95 (-1%)67 (-8%)54 (+2%)
105 (-17%)81 (-4%)
VsAvg+35%-1%-18%+7%
Rank3/177/1713/177/17

The Mayor was pulled at the end of the fall, but the story pretty much remained the same: high single-digit declines for the night largely driven by the much weaker 8:30. Kevin (Probably) became a clearer cancellation after it got no winter bounce at all, but stayed in line with SHIELD (which also had a rough winter in 2017).

spring

Year8:008:309:009:3010:0010:30Avg
2016-17The MiddleAmerican HousewifeFresh Off the BoatImaginary MaryAgents of SHIELD79
10799856858
10376
2017-18RoseanneThe MiddleBlack-ishSplitting Up TogetherFor the People135 (+71%)
320 (+198%)148 (+49%)118 (+38%)112 (+65%)58 (-1%)
234 (+126%)115 (+50%)
VsAvg+212%+16%-18%+66%
Rank1/176/1714/171/17

But this relatively unassuming night suddenly became the talk of the TV ratings world when the Roseanne revival came on the scene with a 5.2 demo in late March. It singlehandedly vaulted Black-ish and later The Middle to their biggest single-episode performances ever, and there was even a nice audience for 9:30 newbie Splitting Up Together. But the churn of mediocrity continued at 10/9c, where For the People was unable to improve on last year's Agents of SHIELD.

Rating the Ratings

NameLoAvgHiy2yPlusLabelPlusy2yResults
The Middle*1.11.442.2-4%132hit+8%detail
Roseanne2.53.505.2320megahitdetail
Fresh Off the Boat0.91.021.4-14%93marginal-3%detail
Black-ish0.81.192.6-21%109solid-12%detail
The Mayor0.70.821.275marginaldetail
Splitting Up Together1.01.222.1112soliddetail
Kevin (Probably) Saves the World0.40.671.061flopdetail
For the People0.50.630.958flopdetail

The Middle: It was headed for a Plus decline for most of its final season, but the Roseanne bump helped The Middle to go out on its highest Plus in series history (narrowly beating the 129 from two years ago). Using True Plus, which tries to account for the Roseanne boost, it was down some for the year. If Roseanne hadn't existed, maybe the finale could've still helped the spring comparisons look better than the fall and winter. Overall, a solid but unspectacular finish. Grade: B.

Roseanne: The premiere was beyond anyone's wildest expectations, one of the biggest TV ratings moments of the decade-plus that I've been following this stuff. The post-premiere declines were less than incredible, but still pretty good considering the unprecedented heights the show was starting from. I usually like to see a better trajectory to give out the A+, but it still hung on to the biggest Plus average for any broadcast series in the era. And even the new low 2.5 that it ended on was above where I thought it was gonna premiere. Grade: A+. While there were some "they won't miss it because the ratings were declining anyway" hot takes out there, even with really bad declines it probably had enough cushion to be a productive player for multiple seasons to come. Because of the lead's lunacy, we'll never know for sure.

Fresh Off the Boat: It's a minor Plus decline for a show that got a nice timeslot upgrade and missed out on the late spring (even if the late spring in this case would've resulted in a huge boost). It earned its renewal, but it should've done better. Grade: C.

Black-ish: It had a big timeslot downgrade, moving from post-Modern Family to a 9/8c anchor on Tuesday, but it was headed for a really substantial year-to-year decline before Roseanne stepped in. However, the Roseanne factor did somewhat obscure the fact that it had a legitimately solid end to the season, ending on three 1.2's even after the dust had settled a bit on Roseanne. Grade: C+.

The Mayor: Another attempt by ABC to stray outside of the family comedy brand, and another repudiation. I guess it was pulled pretty late in its order in a last-ditch effort to help Kevin (Probably). Grade: D.

Splitting Up Together: Though there was the halo of Roseanne involved, Splitting's performance in the first month of the season was excellent; it was within a tenth of Black-ish in weeks 2-5, and in three of those four weeks it actually had a higher Live+7 rating than Black-ish. But things started to feel a bit... fragile in the last three weeks, as Black-ish finished well and SUT just barely hung on to 1.0's. I don't put a ton of stock in the episode after The Middle finale, but I wish the last three episodes had offered a little more reassurance. With a Black-ish lead-in and no Roseanne, this 9:30 slot is gonna be tough sledding next season. Grade: B.

Kevin (Probably) Saves the World: I'll just link to what I said on the Upfront Renewology post (scroll to the bottom) rather than repackage it all here. It was not that far from being in the mix, but it needed to show a little more life after the new year. Grade: D+.

For the People: And this show, which was not really any stronger than Kevin, pulled the renewal in the end. With so little to lean on in the drama department, ABC is investing in the last shows it can possibly get away with labeling "TGIT" and hoping that the ratings performance follows. Grade: D+.

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.

Here's the now updated Schedules Plus for ABC Tuesday.

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