Monday, July 27, 2020

The Breakdown: ABC Thursday in 2019-20 (Station 19, Grey's Anatomy, A Million Little Things and more!)

It's time for a journey through the ABC Thursday schedule in 2019-20...

NOTE: In addition to classic A18-49+, Breakdown posts in 2019-20 also use CVPlus, comparing spring ratings against a higher league average due to viewership inflation from COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. See here for more.


2018-19Grey's AnatomyStation 19How to Get Away with Murder120
2019-20Grey's AnatomyA Million Little ThingsHow to Get Away with Murder112 (-7%)
169 (-3%)104 (-3%)61 (-20%)

With four returning drama options for Thursday, ABC brought winter occupant A Million Little Things back to the 9/8c hour and held Station 19 for midseason. This arrangement ended up looking pretty close to what Grey's/Station had a year ago, but the nightly average was dragged down by continued rough declines for How to Get Away with Murder at 10/9c.


2018-19Grey's AnatomyA Million Little ThingsHow to Get Away with Murder116
2019-20Station 19Grey's AnatomyA Million Little Things121 (+5%)
132 (-23%)151 (+33%)80 (+27%)

ABC mixed things up quite a bit at midseason. Usual fall/winter staple HTGAWM was held off until spring, A Million Little Things went to the 10/9c hour, and Grey's Anatomy returned to its longtime 9/8c slot with Station 19 leading off the night. Once again, there was not much difference across the first two hours (while Station benefited at 8/7c, Station+Grey's was about equal to Grey's+AMLT) but this time the 10/9c hour was the difference in a good way, with A Million Little Things easily outrating the winter episodes of Murder from a year ago.


2018-19Grey's AnatomyStation 19For the People98
2019-20Station 19Grey's AnatomyHow to Get Away with Murder113 (+15%)
125 (-16%)149 (+56%)65 (+26%)

The Station/Grey's flip became an even clearer win during COVID times in the spring, as Station 19's year-to-year growth at 8/7c exploded and Grey's was basically a wash with its year-ago post-DST performance. With a Grey's lead-in, the final run of How to Get Away with Murder had some juice in its own right, bouncing significantly above its late fall ratings (not to mention the year-ago flop For the People).

Rating the Ratings

Grey's Anatomy* hit-5%detail
A Million Little Things0.60.711.0-23%87marginal-10%detail
How to Get Away with Murder*0.40.520.7-21%64flop-9%detail

Station 19: There are definitely major reasons you can point to for this growth. Moving to 8/7c was a timeslot upgrade, and it was able to air every single week at the height of the pandemic in a way that few scripted series could; it looks several points lower in CVPlus and even that may not sufficiently capture the effect. Generally, the fall/winter comparisons were hinting that the first two hours were "Truly" more like even in Plus. All that being said, I think it still did better than most would've predicted even under those circumstances. It was a win; the question is how much of one. I could maybe see going a notch higher, but in light of the relatively soft DVR numbers I will go with merely a Grade: B+.

Grey's Anatomy: This ended up working out swimmingly for all parties involved, because Station 19 overperformed enough at 8/7c that it ended up making the 9/8c hour not that much of a downgrade for Grey's. Grade: B.

A Million Little Things: It does not get as much forgiveness as some sophomores because it was looking promising in the second half of its freshman year. In light of that, it might even seem a touch disappointing that it didn't make the second-year leap to another level as some were hoping for in the fall. But it was still a DVR beast, and the delayed growth leaped back up when it was downgraded back to 10/9c. Grade: C+.

How to Get Away with Murder: This was a sneaky example of an artifical pandemic boost, because its DVR gains went way down for those last six episodes that appeared to be such a godsend in the Live+SD numbers. I give it some credit for what it did in the spring, but can't paper over the fact that most of the season (and the DVR numbers) point to a show still on a rather steep decline. Grade: C.

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.

Previous Breakdowns for ABC Thursday: 2015-16 | 2016-17 | 2017-18 | 2018-19

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

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