There aren't very many guarantees when it comes to modern primetime TV, but one of the most dependable notions has been that ABC's Wednesday night comedy block offers the most successful batch of laugh-ready shows that a normal week has to offer. Unfortunately, things are looking pretty grim all over, with network veteran Modern Family coming as close as possible to its worst numbers since premiering back in 2009. And the other comedies don't have much more to brag about.
Let's start with Modern Family, whose ensemble cast is so large that contract negotiations could be the key deciding factor in ABC granting the series a Season 9. In years past, there wasn't much worry about renewals, since Modern Family has long been one of ABC's most popular series in both total viewership and in the key demographic of adults 18-49. But Wednesday night's episode, "Frank's Wedding," is the biggest sign yet that the family comedy is on its weakest legs ever.
The episode was watched by 6.16 million people, according to TV By the Numbers, which is the new second-smallest audience that Modern Family has ever attracted for its Live+Same Day stats. That series-low viewership was only recorded a few weeks ago, too, so it's not some anomaly. More importantly for the network's sake, Modern Family recorded its lowest demo rating of its eight-season run with a 1.8; it's a result that lots of lesser-watched shows would kill for, mind you, but not at all impressive for a series that was easily earning between 3.0-4.0 ratings just two years ago. TV viewership is dropping all around, of course, and Modern Family's delayed viewing numbers are still pretty solid, but also not as big as they used to be.
Meanwhile, Blackish is facing some growing pains of its own, as its latest episode ("What Lies Beneath") also drew the series' second lowest viewership, with 4.57 million people tuning in. It only tops another Season 3 episode which aired back in December. Things don't get better on the key demo front, either, as the 1.3 rating was Blackish's series low. The highly acclaimed series, which took some recent backlash for a guest appearance by Chris Brown, hasn't been renewed for Season 4 yet, but ABC tends to hold off on those decisions.
The Goldbergs started off the night with an audience of 5.6 million people, which isn't so great for the '80s comedy, but still beats out most of its Season 1 numbers. However, the 1.5 demo rating matches The Goldberg's series low, which was already matched a couple of times this season. The clear winner for the night, though, was Speechless by default of being a freshman series and not having a lot of comparison data. Its demo rating of 1.3 was a series low, technically, but its more of a steady result than a drooping one, similar to how its 4.75 million viewers are on the low end of the viewership spectrum, but still fairly consistent.
As networks head down the final stretch from May Sweeps to season finales, we'll be keeping an eye on ABC's comedy block to see if any big changes are made for next season. You can find The Goldbergs, Speechless, Modern Family and Blackish every Wednesday night in the block airing between 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. ET. To see what else is heading to the small screen soon, head to our midseason premiere schedule and our summer TV guide.
Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.
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