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ABC: The Winners and Losers

Welcome to the first edition of "The Winners and Losers", where I take a look back at ABC's 2015-16 television season and access which shows were the biggest winners and which shows could have done better.

WINNERS

Grey's Anatomy
After years of trouble in the Thursday at 8pm time slot, ABC saw its second straight season of success there with Grey's Anatomy. It's currently ABC's #2 scripted show, averaging a 2.23 A18-49 rating, and is down just over 6% year-to-year--less than almost every other show on broadcast. It's skewing slightly older this season, as shown by the fact that it's lost less than 2% of its total viewers. It's been clear for a while that when this ends, it'll be a Shonda decision and not a Mouse decision.

The Bachelor
The Bachelor is perhaps the show on broadcast television people most love-to-hate, because for all the people who complain about the show, it's still UP (0.31%) year-to-year, which is something no other ABC show can say. It averaged a 2.36, making it ABC's #2 show and #1 non-scripted show. Not bad for a bridge series airing its 19th cycle.

The Little Comedies That Could
Rounding out the winners list for ABC are "the little comedies that could". I'm referring to The Middle, The Goldbergs, and Last Man Standing, all of which were by and large marginal renewals that some questioned when they made it into a second season. The Middle and The Goldbergs have blossomed into hits, with both doing better in ratings relative to other shows than ever before. The Goldbergs is currently averaging a 2.03, down less than 7% year-to-year and remaining ABC's #2 comedy and #4 scripted show. The Middle is just a tad behind it at a 1.91, down a little over 4%. It's ABC's #3 comedy and #5 scripted show overall, showing how strong ABC's comedy department is compared to dramas this season. In fact, in recent days The Goldbergs and The Middle have been ABC's #3 and #4 shows due to Scandal's recent ratings collapse.

Meanwhile, Last Man Standing is still chugging along on Fridays with a 1.21 A18-49 average, a rating that neither of the Tuesday comedies can say. Down less than 5% year-to-year, this show would be an obvious renewal if it wasn't for Tim Allen's contract. Most expect a renewal like always though. Last Man Standing has the 2nd-healthiest year-to-year trend in ABC's scripted department, behind only The Middle.

LOSERS

Bridge Season
Bridge season for ABC is still more of an experiment that is a great idea that hasn't been executed properly--kind of like The Muppets. American Crime was ABC's highest-rated bridge show this season--and oh yeah, it's #20 in the scripted department of 25. At least it gets critical attention, something Marvel's Agent Carter (0.79, down 47%), Galavant (0.63, down 52%), and My Diet is Better Than Yours (0.65) can't say.

The Muppets
It's a bit deceiving that The Muppets is currently ranked #11 on ABC's scripted ratings chart. It had everything going for it: a well-received pilot presentation, promos that got everyone excited, a new girlfriend for Kermit, bringing a Disney brand to ABC, finding a way to bring new life into Tuesday, guest stars, and the list goes on. It premiered to a 2.9 A18-49 demo. The problem was that not many people were particularly compelled by the pilot episode. Because that 2.9 turned into a 2.0 for the second episode, and by the time they hit the fourth episode it was at a paltry 1.3 rating. Not exactly the rating anyone was expecting, leaving Fresh Off The Boat to fend for itself and spend a second straight season making do with a not-so-ideal situation. Since this show was really supposed to succeed and ABC spent so much money promoting it, they decided to switch show runners and retool it, and even slightly upgraded it to the 8:30 time slot, which only sent it into fractional territory for its final six episodes. There has been talk that it will return for a second season, possibly in a Galavant-like role, but don't be fooled if it does; this was a giant ratings loss for ABC and if it returns will be because they're The Muppets, and are owned by Disney.

Tuesday at 10
What ABC has aired Tuesday at 10pm this season and two seasons ago make last season's Forever actually look good. A total of five weeks have been devoted to scripted programming in the time slot before they got replaced by equally low rated, yet cheaper, reality filler. I don't think anything has ever gotten a rating that wasn't fractional there this season. Even Beyond the Tank, which was holding almost all of Shark Tank in its three-week event last May was hitting consistent 0.5s in the time slot. The sad part is that the competition isn't overly intimidating; Chicago Fire does well for a 10pm show but Limitless shouldn't be something that you're afraid to counter-program against.

Paul Lee
Paul Lee's time at ABC had its ups and downs. They had a great season last year, but there has been some slippage this season. Reportedly his vision for the network wasn't in line with Ben Sherwood's, who wants more procedurals to Lee's serials. Time will tell if bridge season is kept, but Paul Lee's term came to an abrupt end in the eyes of the public a couple months ago. I do think that his bridge season idea was a great idea and hope to see it continue in some capacity.