Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The War of 18-49, Black-ish

A Solid Companion for Modern Family

ABC had toiled away for years trying to get edgy, off-brand comedies to work with its big Modern Family lead-in. In fall 2014, they finally went with something that (while topical) still fit nicely as a companion family comedy. Black-ish opened well during premiere week 2014, with 10.85 million viewers and a 3.3 leading out of a 3.9 for Modern Family. After a somewhat unsettling drop to 2.5 in week two, it bounced back to a 2.8 the next week and mostly hovered around the mid-2's in the fall while Modern pulled mid- and low-3's. Not stellar retention, but it looked like a godsend when compared with the Super Fun Nights and Mixologys of the world. In the spring, Black-ish mostly managed low-2's while Modern Family was getting high-2's.

Both Modern Family and Black-ish got a little weaker right from the start of the next season; Black-ish only even broke 2.0 for the season premiere and the winter premiere, spent most of the year in the high-1's, and had a run of mid-1's in April and May. But the duo mostly stabilized (relative to the league average decline) in season three; Black-ish hovered in the general vicinity of 1.5 most of the way, a little higher in the fall and lower in the spring.

Anchoring an Hour on Tuesday

After three years, the Modern Family and Black-ish combo was finally separated in 2017-18. Black-ish headed for the Tuesday comedy block, where it would anchor the 9:00 hour and launch another African-American-led comedy called The Mayor. While The Mayor didn't work, and this arrangement meant a pretty big hit to Black-ish's ratings (it usually pulled very low-1's), it ultimately proved a passable occupant of the slot; it usually matched or slightly built from its 8:30 lead-in Fresh Off the Boat.

In the spring, the entire night got a massive jolt from the revival of Roseanne, and Black-ish happened to be the show that directly led out of its historic one-hour 5.2 premiere. That took Black-ish all the way up to a 2.6 rating, its highest raw number since season one and its highest historical-adjusted rating in series history. Black-ish was an indirect lead-out beyond that first week and fell to the mid-1's and then low-1's, but the Roseanne factor clearly made Black-ish's season average look a lot better than it was gonna be otherwise. In season five, there was no such salvation for Black-ish, and it took easily the largest drop in series history.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

12014-15Wednesday 9:302.281.63.3detail
42017-18Tuesday 9:001.19-22%0.82.6detailC+
62019-20Tuesday 9:300.59-25%0.40.8detailC
72020-21Wed 9:30, Tue 9:000.47-19%0.30.6detailC+
8Winter 2022Tuesday 9:300.39-17%0.30.5detailC

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

8Winter 202277marginal0.39+5%5910410473


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

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