6:00am PT by Lesley Goldberg, Michael O'Connell, Rick Porter
ABC Scorecard: Complete Guide to What's New, Renewed and Canceled
ABC’s annual reluctance to renew or cancel series before it absolutely has to seems like it should be in violation of the UN Charter — but 11th-hour decisions look likely for most of its lineup for yet another year.
Perhaps it makes more sense ahead of this upfront market than for those previous. Newly minted entertainment president Karey Burke has her work cut out for her if she’s going to dig the network out of the No. 4 slot in the Big Four. The 2018-19 season saw it slip even further among adults 18-49, dropping 13 percent in the key demo. The exec has also been vocal about her desire to reclaim No. 1 status among female viewers, long an ABC bragging point at the New York dog and pony show.
So what does ABC need — aside from the sports rights it’ll never get, thanks to sharing a parent company with ESPN? A new hit drama, to prepare for the inevitable life after Grey’s Anatomy, and a new hit comedy, to do the same for when Modern Family takes a final bow. Rookie entry A Million Little Things did well enough in the drama department, but it ranked a modest sixth among new broadcast series for the season. As for comedy The Conners, it did a nice enough job of stemming some of the ratings bleed-out after Roseanne imploded — but it hasn’t exactly been a breakout.
There’s also the question of American Idol. Still quite expensive, its ratings performance is just not up to snuff. Sunday episodes pull in the same ratings as modest NBC successes (and much cheaper) Ellen’s Game of Games or The Rock’s Titan Games. Monday episodes of Idol fare slightly worse. If the network is going to stay the course with the revived singing competition, something is going to have to change.
What will be most interesting to see as the new schedule takes form, however, won’t be how many old series get invited back. Now that ABC parent Disney owns 20th Century Fox, arguably TV’s most prolific and quality-controlled studio, the network’s favored source of pilot pickups could very well shift from sibling ABC Studios.
Either way, it will all be unveiled in a new co-headlined affair with ESPN, FX and National Geographic at Lincoln Center on May. 14.
Keep track of all the renewals, cancellations and new show orders with THR's scorecards for CBS, Fox, NBC and The CW and with all the latest pilot pickups and passes with our handy guide. For complete coverage, bookmark THR.com/upfronts.
Agents of SHIELD | Having recently launched its abbreviated sixth season — due two weeks after Avengers: End Game — Marvel's first live-action scripted drama series earned an early seventh season pickup as former ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey's last order of business before departing for Netflix.
Black-ish | The fifth-year single-camera comedy — owned in-house — is the network's comedy heir apparent as Modern Family is coming to an end. The family comedy starring fan favorite Tracee Ellis Ross and Anthony Anderson is returning for a sixth season. The series, which counts a lucrative off-net syndication deal and an exclusive SVOD streaming deal with Hulu, transitioned to showrunners Kenny Smith and Jonathan Groff this season after creator Kenya Barris decamped for Netflix. What's more, co-showrunner Smith inked a three-year overall deal with ABC Studios, helping to solidify Black-ish's long-term future.
Grey's Anatomy | Consider the Shonda Rhimes- and Betsy Beers-produced medical drama ABC's little engine that could. In its 15th season, Grey's is still ABC's top-rated drama in adults 18-49 — a remarkable feat for a veteran show in the Peak TV era. A renewal was all but official when leading lady Ellen Pompeo (Meredith Grey) inked a historic two-year deal that covered seasons 15 and 16 and made her TV's highest paid actress on a drama series. In a sign of its value, Grey's will produce 25 episodes this season — its highest tally in more than a decade. Showrunner Krista Vernoff — who also recently inked a massive overall deal to remain with producers ABC Studios — has been credited with infusing timely issues while paying homage to the show's rich past in the creative. Meanwhile, original stars Justin Chambers, Chandra Wilson and James Pickens Jr. all expected to return as Grey's shows no signs of slowing down (and Burke has her fingers crossed for many more seasons to come). The drama was renewed for two seasons, through season 17.
Station 19 | Season two of the (second) Grey's Anatomy spinoff proved stable, maintaining better than 90 percent of its season one audience. The Shondaland drama, officially returning for its third season, starring Jaina Ortiz and flagship favorite Jason George tapped Grey's Anatomy boss Krista Vernoff to take over as showrunner after creator Stacy McKee's departure.
How to Get Away With Murder | The twisty legal drama starring Viola Davis has suffered double-digit ratings declines for two years running. But the drama, from creator Pete Nowalk, remains a strong performer in delayed viewing, with more than half of its seven-day 18-49 rating and almost half of its total audience coming after it first airs. Nowalk, meanwhile, opted to renew his overall deal with producers ABC Studios after Rhimes left, becoming one of a handful of the prolific producer's disciples to remain at her former home. The series will return for a sixth — and final — season.
American Housewife | The third-year single-camera family comedy starring Katy Mixon earned a vote of confidence when it was tapped to replace The Conners as ABC's Tuesday lead-off show. It didn't catch fire, but it also didn't falter after moving away from the considerably stronger Wednesday lineup. Produced by ABC Studios and Aaron Kaplan's Kapital Entertainment, the series has fit thematically with the network's comedy brand and a fourth season will inch it closer to the volume needed to be sold into syndication.
Bless This Mess | Originally developed and a contender for Fox's midseason slate, the network passed on the pilot from New Girl creator Elizabeth Meriwether and, given its ownership change (it's produced by the now Disney-owned 20th TV), ABC swooped in to pick up the Lake Bell and Dax Shepard fish-out-of-water family comedy. The single-camera comedy remains an internal favorite after its mid-April debut put up solid ratings.
Fresh Off the Boat | A move to Fridays predictably pushed ratings down for the 20th TV-produced comedy from showrunner Nahnatchka Khan, but it has still improved ABC's 8 p.m. slot a bit year to year. The perennial bubble comedy starring breakout Constance Wu and Randall Park is now owned in-house and will be seeking a new showrunner after Khan exited her longtime overall deal with 20th TV for a massive pact with Universal TV. Meanwhile, Wu seems less than thrilled about the good news.
The Goldbergs | The semiautobiographical comedy from showrunner Adam F. Goldberg still pulls in decent ratings — only Modern Family and The Conners do better for ABC. The 1980s-set comedy from Sony TV and starring Wendi McLendon has a lucrative off-network syndication deal and has now become a larger franchise for the network with '90s entry Schooled showing early promise. The single-camera comedy is returning for a seventh season.
Schooled | Perhaps one of TV's greatest recent success stories, the 1990s-set spinoff of The Goldbergs was developed as a pilot two years ago and passed over. Creator Goldberg and producers Sony TV fought for the series, and had its original pilot aired as a special episode of The Goldbergs. When ratings ticked up, ABC and Sony redeveloped it — adding Goldbergs favorite AJ Michalka (Lainey) as the lead, among other casting changes — and it was picked up to series as a co-production. The spinoff has performed solidly, earning the best seven-day 18-49 rating of any midseason comedy with ABC going all out to support the series before reporters at TCA in January. Season two is now official.
Single Parents | The first-year comedy, from New Girl writers J.J. Philbin and Elizabeth Meriwether, was the first ABC comedy to score a full-season order. The single-camera comedy starring Taran Killam, Leighton Meester and Brad Garrett started as a co-production between ABC Studios and 20th TV and is now 100 percent owned in-house. Ratings-wise, its returns are on par with those of fellow comedy renewals American Housewife and Bless This Mess.
The Good Doctor | A breakout hit in its first season, the Freddie Highmore-starring medical drama from Sony TV and showrunner David Shore cooled considerably its sophomore outing (down 30 percent in adults 18-49 and 26 percent in total viewers). Still, the co-production with ABC Studios was the network's most-watched series and ranks second on the network in the advertiser-coveted adults 18-49 demographic. It will return for a third season.
Modern Family | The Emmy-winning family comedy from creators Steve Levitan and Chris Lloyd went into the season owned by Fox and planning for its current 10th season to be its endgame. Now that the ensemble comedy — the linchpin of ABC's Wednesday comedy block for the past decade — is now owned by Disney following its $71.3 billion Fox asset buy, ABC eked out an 11th and final season (that's likely to come with an abbreviated episode count). Meanwhile, ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke remains open to a spinoff of the network's most successful comedy. "Like the rest of America, I can only hope! We will dive into those conversations very soon," Burke told THR in March.
The Conners | The Roseanne Barr-less Roseanne spinoff was never going to match the flagship's massive ratings (which had fallen considerably even by the end of its revival), but the Sara Gilbert-led offshoot performed about as well as could be expected. The multicamera comedy from Carsey-Werner wrapped the season as ABC's top-rated new series across the board and the top-rated new comedy of 2018-19. Its second season is expected to be for another round of 11 episodes as its cast continues to juggle multiple other projects.
A Million Little Things | The rookie drama from showrunner DJ Nash — compared to This Is Us since it was developed at this time last year — held its own on Wednesdays against veteran competition in the fall, then got a sizable boost after moving to Thursdays behind Grey's Anatomy for its remaining seven episodes. The ABC Studios-produced ensemble drama about a group of friends coping with the suicide of one of their own is the network's No. 1 new drama in adults 18-49 for the season. David Giuntoli, Romany Malco, James Roday, Grace Park, Allison Miller and Ron Livingston star in the drama, which ran for 17 episodes in its freshman run. (Nash, for his part, hopes to grow that order to a full 22 for season two.)
Grand Hotel | The soapy, Miami-set soapy drama — an upstairs/downstairs look at the last family-owned hotel in multicultural Miami Beach — stars Demian Bichir and Roselyn Sanchez and premieres in June. The ABC Studios entry is based on the Spanish format and counts Eva Longoria as an exec producer (and guest star). A decision on this one will likely come in the summer or early fall.
Whiskey Cavalier | Shackled with a title Jimmy Kimmel mercilessly roasted at the 2018 upfronts, the action dramedy starring Scandal grad Scott Foley and The Walking Dead favorite Lauren Cohan more than doubled its 18-49 rating with a week of delayed viewing and has a similar profile to that of renewed drama The Rookie. The series, from David Hemingson and Warner Bros. TV-based Bill Lawrence, was among ABC's top priorities as the network scheduled the rom-com-infused series in its prime post-Oscar slot as Burke looks to bring women back to the network. Not helping the drama's case was the fact that it hailed from an outside studio — Warners — and, in addition to paying a licensing fee, the drama was an expensive international production. It aired for one season.
Speechless | The semi-autobiographical comedy from Friends grad Scott Silveri and inspired by the showrunner's late brother, the single-camera entry moved to Fridays this season, where, like companion Fresh Off the Boat, the 20th TV-produced took a sizable ratings hit on its new night. After emerging as a critical favorite last year, the John Ross Bowie and Minnie Driver starrer about a family whose son (Micah Fowler) has cerebral palsy was canceled after three seasons despite ABC's newfound ownership of the series could help it get to a fourth season.
Splitting Up Together | The rom-com starring Jenna Fischer and Oliver Hudson as a divorced couple stuck living together rode the Roseanne wave to solid ratings in its first season, but the ride was much rougher in its second. A 42 percent tumble in adults 18-49 and outside ownership (it's produced by Warner Bros. TV) led to the sophomore comedy's cancellation. The single-camera comedy was from creator Emily Kapnek (Suburgatory).
The Kids Are Alright | The 1970s-set rookie single-camera comedy about an Irish-Catholic family of 10 living in a three-bedroom house outside L.A. held up reasonably well after losing The Conners as a lead-in midway through the season. That said, the Michael Cudlitz and Mary McCormack starrer from ABC Studios and EP Tim Doyle — who based the show on his own childhood — never quite broke out or showed much life in delayed viewing, and it's finished after a single season.
The Fix | The legal thriller starring Robin Tunney and executive produced by Marcia Clark got out of the gate slowly in March and has declined some since its premiere. The ABC Studios drama is among the network's lowest-rated series this season and will finish after 10 episodes.
For the People | A surprise renewal last season after putting up modest ratings, the second-year legal drama starring Britt Robertson, Hope Davis and Ben Shenkman has continued putting up modest ratings as one of ABC's last remaining originals from Grey's Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes. Its value to the network likely came in its ability to keep ABC's Rhimes-focused TGIT branded Thursday lineup intact when How to Get Away With Murder wraps its abbreviated run. It will not return for a third season.
The Baker and the Beauty | Based on an Israeli series, the drama tells the story of the unlikely romance between a blue-collar baker (Victor Rasuk) and an international superstar (Nathalie Kelley). Set in Miami, the Notting Hill-esque series is a co-production of ABC Studios and Universal TV in association with Keshet Studios, which produced the original. It's the second series pickup this season for writer/EP Dean Goergaris, who also has Bluff City Law at NBC.
Emergence | Developed and picked up to pilot at NBC but officially getting a series pickup at ABC, the character-driven genre thriller centers around a police chief (Allison Tolman, Fargo, Downward Dog) who takes in a young child that she finds near the site of a mysterious accident who has no memory of what has happened. The investigation draws her into a conspiracy larger than she ever imagined, and the child’s identity is at the center of it all. The series hails from ABC Studios-based Agent Carter duo Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters. Donald Faison co-stars in the drama.
For Life | The formerly untitled Hank Steinberg/Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson drama heated up in the past few days after emerging as a favorite for Burke, who heavily pursued leading man Nicholas Pinnock (Counterpart) for the part. He stars in the prisoner-turned-lawyer serialized legal and family drama from Steinberg (The Last Ship). The series, a co-production between Sony TV and ABC Studios, is told through the prism of Pinnock's character as he strives to get his life back while exposing the flaws in the penal and legal systems. The pickup arrives the same week that Starz announced that the sixth season of 50 Cent's drama Power would be its last. Sony-based Doug Robinson and George Tillman exec produce, with Indira Varma (Game of Thrones), Joy Bryant (Parenthood) and Mary Stuart Masterson co-starring.
United We Fall | Consider this a surprise pickup. Of the seven comedy scripts ABC picked up to pilot, this multicamera entry starring Jane Curtin and Will Sasso is the lone half-hour to score a series pickup. It joins Black-ish spinoff Mixed-ish (developed as a backdoor pilot and held for next season) as ABC's only two new comedies for the 2019-20 season after the network, sources say, passed on half-hours starring Leslie Odom Jr. (Hamilton) and Hannah Simone (New Girl) — both of which were the leading front-runners all pilot season long. The Latinx-Catholic family comedy (Christina Vidal stars opposite Sasso as a married couple from two different backgrounds) hails from Making History grad Julius "Goldy" Sharpe who wrote and exec produced the comedy, which is a co-production between ABC Studios and Sony Pictures TV. Big Bang Theory Emmy nominee Mark Cendrowski directed the pilot.
Mixed-ish | The Black-ish prequel spinoff revolves around a young version of Tracee Ellis Ross' Rainbow Johnson (played by Arica Himmell) and is set in the 1980s as her parents move from a hippie commune to the suburbs. The single-camera comedy, written by Kenya Barris and Peter Saji, explores issues the mixed-race family faces. The comedy was poised to air as a back-door pilot in season five but is now being held for next season.
Reef Break | Picked up straight to series with a 13-episode order, the action drama starring and exec produced by Poppy Montgomery is set for a summer debut. Produced by ABC Studios and its international arm in collaboration with Fresh broadcaster M6, the drama is based on Montgomery's idea and stars the Unforgettable grad as a former thief-turned-fixer for the governor of a Pacific island paradise.
Stumptown | Based on the Oni Press graphic novel of the same name, the private-eye drama from ABC Studios was a frontrunner at ABC throughout the development season. Avengers and How I Met Your Mother grad Smulders plays Dex Parios, a strong, assertive and sharp-witted army veteran with a complicated love life, a gambling debt and a brother (Cole Sibus) to take care of in Portland. Her military intelligence skills make her a great P.I., but her unapologetic style puts her in the firing line of hardcore criminals and not quite in alliance with the police. Jason Richman (Detroit 187) adapted Greg Rucka's comics for TV.
ABC will have season 30 of America's Funniest Home Videos, season 28 of Dancing With the Stars and season 11 of Shark Tank in 2019-20 along with the 24th installment of The Bachelor, its highest-rated unscripted show, and franchise mates The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise set for summer 2020. A third run for American Idol, with judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan all set to return, is due in early 2020. Child Support has been canceled after two seasons, while the fates of The Great Christmas Light Fight and the network's summer game shows — including revivals of Card Sharks and Press Your Luck — are yet to be determined. Unscripted shows run on a different schedule than that of scripted series, so all renewals may not be decided until after the upfronts.