7:40pm PT by Michael O'Connell, Lesley Goldberg
ABC Renews 'Modern Family,' 'The Goldbergs' and 'The Middle'
It's not all drama at ABC on Thursday night. The network's slew of late-hour renewals for returning hour-longs -- not to mention more than a few new series orders -- also includes comedies Modern Family, The Middle and The Goldbergs.
That makes the pair the first returning ABC half-hours locked for the coming 2014-15 season, with the Modern Family news more of a ceremonial greenlight for the network's flagship hit.
A semi-autobiographical comedy from showrunner Adam F. Goldberg and executive producer Seth Gordon, The Goldbergs will be back for a second season thanks to strong support from ABC's Paul Lee and strong DVR gains. The critical darling, which launched to a 3.2 rating in the demo -- the network's top comedy launch in more than a year -- managed to break out from a crowded Tuesday comedy traffic jam, despite a mismatched lead-in from comics-themed drama Agents of SHIELD.
Halfway into its first season, it also earned the ratings distinction of besting Fox's New Girl in live-plus-same-day showings.
The '80s-set comedy from Sony Pictures Television grows more than 50 percent when factoring in delayed viewing, climbing nearly a point to 2.6 million among adults under 50. For his part, Goldberg has been vocal about support from the network -- he was the only freshman comedy showrunner who didn't have to pitch a back-nine pickup -- and has been campaigning to have the show's sophomore run moved to ABC's Wednesday comedy block.
Modern Family, ever the Emmy darling, is TV's No. 2 scripted comedy, behind The Big Bang Theory. It returns for a sixth season. From 20th Century Fox Television, season five of the comedy from co-creators Chris Lloyd and Steve Levitan is averaging a 3.6 in the key adults 18-to-49 demo -- rising to 5.6 when adding seven days of DVR playback.
Despite USA Network's frequent syndicated repeats, the single-camera comedy is down year-over-year from season four. While the family ensemble ranks as the crowned jewel of ABC's comedy brand, the network has yet to find a successful lead-out.
Meanwhile, the Patricia Heaton family comedy is returning. Down only slightly year-over-year, averaging a 2.1 rating among adults under 50, The Middle continues to anchor the network's Wednesday comedy block at 8 p.m. While it lacks the water-cooler buzz factor of its counterparts, the Warner Bros. Television-produced effort is still perfectly on brand for the Disney-owned network. Helping its cause for a sixth season, The Middle recently began airing in syndication on Hallmark Channel.
New comedies already confirmed at ABC are Jeff Lowell's entry, which is now known as Manhattan Love Story, and Emily Kapnek's Selfie.