UPDATE 2/10/11: Better With You got a 2.0 out of a 2.6 for The Middle. It was a series low, while its lead in was flat. It’s losing viewers, not gaining them with each passing episode. Next week through March 30th the entire ABC comedy block is against American Idol. Plus the 8p hour gets more competetive with Survivor returning next week.I really think The Middle reruns temporarily, (and if Mr. Sunshine holds up at 9:30), eventually Cougar Town should be in the 8:30 time period for the rest of the season.
Original Post from 1/26/11:
Lots of people today will be talking about how Cougar Town dropped way too much from the Modern Family rerun, yada yada. Or they will talk about how Off The Map is under a 2.0 (No that’s not good, but it’s still way higher than The Whole Truth was and it had a night of mostly encores in front of it). Personally I think ABC has more pressing issues, well everywhere, (but that post will have to wait), but I think they have more pressing issues on Wednesday.
I have talked a lot about how I think ABC didn’t utilize the 8:30 slot on their emerging Wednesday comedy block well this season. They greenlit a Multi cam show, Better With You, that tonally and in other ways doesn’t really fit with the rest of the block. If it was really funny, it wouldn’t matter. The fact that critics praise the comedy block and only mention 3 comedies should tell you how funny it is. If it had great retention or showed ratings potential, it also wouldn’t matter as much. I don’t ever see it on the DVR report. There’s little passion or buzz for it.
I have also talked about (in previous posts) how Better With You should be holding more of The Middle and the fact that as HUT levels rise and people settle in for Modern Family this show is dropping too much. Last year The Middle grew at 8:30 every week, no matter what was in front of it (including Modern Family reruns). I think if ABC slotted a great, funny single cam comedy that fit with the others, I bet it would grow at 8:30 and Modern Family would probably rate even a little higher.
Last night’s numbers finally bear this out. For the first 90 minutes of primetime last night ABC did rather fantastic for airing reruns up against the second week of IDOL. Modern Family had its highest rerun numbers EVER (2.6 – those are CBS rerun numbers) and ABC wisely replaced a BWU rerun with another encore of The Middle. The Middle rerun at 8 had a 2.0, the rerun at 8:30 built to a 2.1 (one of those eps was on its 3rd airing). Aside from the fact that these are the highest rerun numbers for The Middle, the second Middle encore got the exact same score as a new BWU last week. I also believe Modern Family had higher rerun numbers than normal (especially vs IDOL) because it had a stronger lead in.
I believe that some people leave after The Middle and especially now with IDOL as competition, some people don’t come back for Modern Family.
I think ABC needs to protect its comedy block and I also think Mr. Sunshine will have a harder time with retention than Cougar Town does after Modern Family (but I could very well be wrong). So in order to protect the rest of the comedy block, I think ABC should air an encore of The Middle at 8:30 for the rest of the season.
The next time The Middle and Modern Family are new is the first Wednesday of Sweeps, Feb 9th. Not that ABC asked, but here is what I would do:
8p- The Middle – new ep
8:30 – Modern Family – encore of last year’s stellar Valentine’s day episode (with Clive Bixby)
9p – Brand new Modern Family – this one is titled “Bixby’s Back”. It would be kinda cool to see the first ep from last year into the new one. Plus it would strengthen the whole night and give people less of an opportunity to switch at 8:30. I am sure ABC wants Mr. Sunshine to have the best opening as possible. This would insure that.
Beginning Feb 16th, I would air The Middle encores at 8:30 for the rest of the season. People are still discovering this show and a lot of these episodes are new to many.
ABC can double pump the remaining BWU eps on Fridays sometime this season (if they really are considering bringing back TGIF, this could be somewhat of a test). In fairness to BWU, the show has improved somewhat and it has a great cast and a talented creator. I just think it’s not up to the caliber or quality of the other 3 shows and, as I said, if the ratings were great it wouldn’t matter as much. BUT they aren’t.
I have many other thoughts on ABC but that will have to wait for another post