Modern Family Is Hitting All-Time Series Lows In The Ratings Ahead Of Its Final Season

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Though it was only ten years ago, 2009 feels like a lifetime away in terms of TV's evolution. There was no Netflix, Breaking Bad was still just "that cable meth show," and Modern Family was impressing audiences everywhere with its character diversity and its rapid-fire humor. It spent years as one of primetime's top-rated comedies (and scripted shows in general) with its highly paid cast, but Modern Family is currently shedding viewers on the way to its final season, and has hit all-time series lows in both viewership and demo ratings.

The most recent episode of Modern Family, titled "Commencement," was something of a hallmark episode featuring two different graduations (in small doses). However, audiences did not seem to want to get all up in joining that celebration. Let's break down the numbers.

How Many People Watched Modern Family's Latest Episode?

When the final numbers were tallied for Wednesday evening's primetime fare, Modern Family ended up with 4.21 million viewers, which is the smallest audience to ever tune in for a live airing. Not that it landed on the bottom by the widest of margins.

Prior to "Commencement," Modern Family's least-watched episode was "Stand By Your Man," which only aired back on March 20. The episode was viewed by 4.25 million people, and the next two episodes built on those numbers before falling to the lowest point yet.

In the short term, Modern Family's latest totals may not be all that surprising, considering the up-and-down numbers throughout Season 10. However, they're a cause for concern when one takes a step back to view the big picture. After all, the ABC comedy only dipped below 5 million viewers for an episode for the first time in the middle of Season 9. Modern Family's overall decline has been steady for a while, but the past two years have seemingly seen bigger drops than those of earlier years. Maybe that controversial death episode really turned people away.

How Did Modern Family's Latest Episode Do In The Demo Ratings?

While drops in overall viewership are usually worrisome signs, a show's balance is still maintained if it can hold onto the audience members that slot into the key demographic of 18-49 year olds. Unfortunately for Modern Family, Season 10 has been a struggle in the demo department, and per TV by the Numbers, "Commencement" marked the show's lowest rating ever: a 1.0.

To be sure, a 1.0 rating is still a fairly safe zone for most broadcast network series – and is an impressive mark for many cable shows – but it's a cringe-worthy low point for Modern Family. Back in Season 3, for instance, the ensemble-driven comedy managed to hit a gobsmacking 6.2 rating, but even when things weren't going that phenomenally well, Modern Family still managed to earn around a 2.0 rating or higher.

That trend slowed quite noticeably in Season 8, though, and the demo ratings never rose above a 2.0 again after the Season 9 premiere. For the entirety of Season 10, the highest demo rating was a 1.6 for the premiere episode in September.

How Is Modern Family Doing With DVR Numbers?

Because networks are increasingly incorporating delayed viewing statistics into their schedule-making decisions, a show's Live + 7 success rate can sometimes have an affect on a show's fate. Thankfully for ABC and the show's cast and crew, Modern Family still brings in a hefty DVR crowd.

While its Live + 7 totals have obviously also drooped over the years along with its Wednesday night numbers, Modern Family remains a go-to draw for loads of people needing something to watch at other random points of the week. Throughout Season 10, the show has averaged somewhere around 3 million viewers in DVR stats, which definitely helps its all-incorporated season totals.

Perhaps even more impressively, just Modern Family's delayed-viewing stats in Season 10 have earned a 1.0 demo rating or above. (The lone exception was Episode 4, which landed a 0.9, and that episode also had the smallest DVR audience.) That means that Modern Family episodes are sometimes being watched by a bigger average of 18-49-year-old viewers than the live episodes are, which is certainly the norm for most shows.

While Modern Family probably would have been labeled a "bubble show" at this point due to its flailing numbers, ABC already guaranteed the show an official swan song by ordering up Season 11 to air in the fall. But will the show be able to pick its numbers up before that point? Hopefully the creative team can spend the summer hiatus trying to map out ways to draw fans back in. Maybe fewer graduations and weddings, though.

Modern Family airs Wednesday nights on ABC at 9:00 p.m. ET.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

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.