When broadcast networks are looking to cancel and renew their current slate of programming, one of the key words is stability. Building their schedules around established hits help them launch new shows and retain audiences, something that has been increasing difficult over each passing year with then onslaught on programming coming from the likes of Amazon, Hulu and Netflix.
ABC is in the midst of a leadership transition since Entertainment President Channing Dungey announced her resignation last month. Dungey, who was the first African-American women to run a broadcast network, has been responsible for launching some of ABC’s biggest hits of the last few seasons, which include Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, The Good Doctor, the return of American Idol, and rebooting Roseanne and its eventual spin-off The Conners.
ABC and its incoming Entertainment President Karey Burke should be already thinking about how to stabilize their schedule for next season by holding on to two of the networks biggest comedy players Modern Family and The Conners.
This is important because both comedies are current anchors of their Tuesday and Wednesday night comedy lineups, and draw in decent ratings for ABC. According to TVLine, The most recent episode of The Conners drew 6.6 million viewers, a huge success by broadcast standards, but still well below the ratings of Roseanne at this point into its spring run. The Conners have also raised viewershio to its Tuesday night counterparts The Kids Are Alright, black-ish, and Splitting Up Together, which is a big reason it would want to keep its lead Tuesday night comedy around for at least 10 or 11 episodes next year. The Conners is expected to end its season on January 22nd.
Modern Family, which is currently in its 10th season, was widely speculated to end this season, but ABC and its parent studio. According to Deadline, Modern Family’s producing studio 20th Century Fox have recently started negotiations core cast members Ed O’Neill, Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonstreet, and Sofia Vergara, and many writers and executive producers to keep the show running for an 11th season, that would consist of at least 18 episodes. With production already halfway through the season, a decision would have to be made quickly if the show would end this season or next, so writers could prepare a proper goodbye for the 10-year-old show.
Both The Conners and Modern Family are essential shows for ABC going into next season. Even though ABC does have a whopping 10 comedies on their schedule currently (the most of any broadcast network), there really aren’t too many other shows ABC can count on to be tentpoles like these two series. Even though veteran shows The Goldbergs, black-ish, and Fresh Off The Boat are in their 6th, 5th, and 5th seasons respectively, these shows are getting older in age and have an established audiences – which means it will get harder and harder to attract new eyeballs and build schedules around these series.
Even though renewals for both of these series are far from official, they are in the works and would be a huge win for ABC to keep these comedies around for at least one more season, especially since the network is undergoing a regime change – stability is key!