Wednesday, September 1, 2021

The Breakdown: ABC Sunday in 2020-21 (The Rookie, Supermarket Sweep, American Idol and more!)

It's time for a journey through the ABC Sunday schedule in 2020-21...

NOTE: In addition to classic A18-49+, Breakdown posts with 2019-20 ratings 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. Also see here for information on the 2020-21 league average.


2019-20Kids Say the Darndest ThingsShark TankThe Rookie80
2020-21Supermarket SweepWho Wants to Be a MillionaireCard Sharks80 (0%)
115 (+39%)75 (-10%)49 (-32%)


ABC went with yet another unscripted option in the 8/7c hour, and got their biggest showing in the fall since the Once Upon a Time days with their revival of Supermarket Sweep. It premiered at a 1.0 but was down to 0.5 by the end of the fall. Despite the early heat, it was little help to the rest of the night, as Who Wants to Be a Millionaire looked much weaker than its initial Kimmel episodes in spring/summer. And Card Sharks, a borderline performer even by summer standards, could not do anything for the 10/9c hour.


2019-20American IdolThe Rookie152
2020-21American IdolThe Rookie124 (-18%)
149 (-17%)149 (-17%)76 (-23%)


The early winter saw the return of The Rookie, airing at 10/9c after the final Millionaire and Card Sharks episodes, then American Idol returned in February. Rookie's retention after Idol was not as bad as it looks in this table, since its winter average was dragged way down by the January eps. Idol returned pretty well, breaking 1.0 in the first few weeks, but ultimately fell to 0.8ish and could not keep up with the very strong winter 2020 pace.


2019-20American IdolThe Rookie107
2020-21American IdolThe Rookie110 (+3%)
128 (+4%)128 (+4%)76 (-1%)


The comparisons for Idol looked much better in the spring, not so much because it held up really well, but more because the COVID-plagued spring 2020 run was such a debacle. The Rookie was also roughly even in Plus.

Rating the Ratings

America's Funniest Home Videos*0.50.670.8-12%104solid+11%detail
Supermarket Sweep0.50.701.0
American Idol Sun*0.80.871.2-28%135hit-9%detail
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire0.30.460.6-44%71marginal-29%detail
Card Sharks0.20.330.5
The Rookie0.40.490.6-24%76marginal-4%detail

America's Funniest Home Videos: This was another impressive step up for the ageless wonder AFV, and even better than some recent growth seasons because it didn't have some huge run in the 8/7c hour. Though it looked strongest in the early American Idol weeks, it posted some league average episodes in pretty much every part of the season. Grade: A-.

Supermarket Sweep: It's sort of like the unscripted version of what happened with Big Sky. The first half of its season was one of the year's biggest newbie successes, while the second half was not that much better than former occupants like DWTS: Juniors and Kids Say. The early part was good enough that I have to give it a decent grade; it's still a game show with above league average ratings, after all. The late part maybe doesn't bode well for the future, but a lot of these game shows pop right back up at the start of a new season, so we'll see. Grade: B.

American Idol Sun: This was actually a fairly normally "shaped" season, but the comparisons are jarring because last season was so weird; it was blazing hot early and then got destroyed by the production issues during COVID lockdowns. Perhaps I could be even harsher here since the winter comparisons were really bad and that's the closest to apples-to-apples, but it still wasn't that much weaker than the last normal season in 2019, so not the end of the world. Grade: C.

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire: This show's collapse was pretty jarring, considering it was still above the 2019-20 league average in June 2020, then returned just over four months later and was mostly well below the 2020-21 average. Of course, it is worth noting that it actually looked like the last season was headed for this range as well, before it got rescued from Wednesday 10/9c and moved to Thursday 8/7c. So scheduling probably matters a lot. But considering how well the early Sweep weeks did as its lead-in, it should've done better. Grade: D+.

Card Sharks: Not really that much worse than the summer 2019 run, but definitely not the kind of ratings you're looking for in the regular season. Grade: D+.

The Rookie: Missing out on the fall meant it aired most of its season after American Idol, but Idol was lower than last year and the lead-ins it had before Idol premiered were way weaker. So overall, it seemed pretty steady. It's posted 76 -> 79 -> 76 in its first three seasons, which is about as consistent as it gets. Grade: B-.

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 Sunday: 2015-16 | 2016-17 | 2017-18 | 2018-19 | 2019-20

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

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