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2016 TV Ratings in Review--ABC



1) The change in management
ABC will leave 2016 with a different President, Head of Drama, and Head of Comedy than they entered the year with. Previous President Paul Lee was outed back in February since he had different visions for the network than did ABC/Disney head Ben Sherwood, while Head of Drama Channing Dungey was promoted to the President position. Shortly thereafter their Head of Comedy departed, and now here we are.

2) The cancellations of Castle and Nashville
Castle, ABC's long-running Monday procedural, started to show serious signs of weakness in the 2014-15 season, and by the spring of 2016 the show was no longer one of ABC's drama staples. The high-profile firing of co-lead Stana Katic was an attempt to cut costs, and lead Nathan Fillion signed on for the ninth season right before upfronts. Castle was all lined up for a renewal...until it got canceled. Without Katic on the show, fans had taken to social media to express anger, and suddenly Castle became Channing Dungey's first high-profile cancelation. Also gone was musical drama Nashville, which media had reported to be a lock for renewal, even though ratings were consistently low. Due to costs and the inability for these shows to grow in the ratings, marginal freshmen shows The Real O'Neals and The Catch were handed renewals instead.

3) The moving of The Middle and expansion of comedy
After the cancelations of Castle and Nashville, the new ABC management made some changes in their comedy scheduling; namely, shifting 2009 entry The Middle to Tuesday after seven seasons self-starting on Wednesday. The goal was to provide a nice lead-in for new shows American Housewife and Speechless, and the general focus of this fall's schedule was for veterans to take a bit of a hit in order to help some new shows. Seemingly comedy is in right now; while The Middle is down much more than it ever has been, and the Wednesday veterans have made significant declines as well, Speechless and Housewife have shown to be solid entries. Time will tell if they could exist well without their lead-ins, as they are still very new and finding their plateau level.

4) The drama collapse
Ten years ago, ABC was thriving with megahit dramas like Grey's Anatomy, Lost, and Desparate Housewives, and falling back on borderline flop According to Jim to carry their comedy department. Now, Grey's Anatomy is still one of the highest-rated shows on television, but is really their one drama bright spot, with the comedies now doing the heavier lifting. ABC brought back four other dramas to their fall schedule; Once Upon a Time, which is down 33% from last season's fall performance; How to Get Away with Murder, down 41%; Marvel's Agents of SHIELD, down 42% in its later time slot; and Quantico, down 50%. And then there's Secrets & Lies, their anthology drama that took a season off and now returned down 50%. New entries Conviction and Notorious managed to do even worse than the veterans, with the former getting its episode order reduced and the latter not given a backorder. The only bright spot other than Grey's is Designated Survivor, their new political drama that is doing middling ratings in their Wednesday at 10pm time slot but is a huge DVR gainer.

5) The attempt to salvage Quantico
Speaking of Quantico shedding half its live + same day demo rating year-to-year, ABC has evidently picked this show to salvage over their midseason crop; it will be moving to Mondays behind The Bachelor starting in January. So either they're completely out of their minds, or more likely, Quantico either makes or is projected to make a significant amount of back-end revenue. Seemingly there is more to the picture to this show than its traditional ratings. Is it too little too late? Possibly. But maybe they'll get another Goldbergs out of this unexpected move.

What do you think was most notable about ABC in 2016? Let us know in the comments below!