'The Middle' Renewed for Ninth Season at ABC

The Middle ABC Still - Publicity - H 2017
Michael Ansell/ABC

The Middle ABC Still - Publicity - H 2017

ABC is showing confidence in veteran comedy The Middle.

The Disney-owned network has handed out an early season-nine renewal for the Warner Bros. Television comedy, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

"The Middle has been one of the network’s most consistent performers and helped us to launch a whole new night of comedy when it moved to Tuesdays this season,” ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey said. “The Indiana Hecks have found America’s sweet spot with their authentic, acerbic and always loving take on parenting, work, kids, marriage and life.”

The Middle moved this season to open Tuesdays at 8 p.m., serving as a launchpad for rookie American Housewife — the latter of which scored a swift back-nine order. The Middle has long been used as the anchor to ABC's critically acclaimed Wednesday comedy block, which now sees The Goldbergs serving in the same capacity. The network shifted it to Tuesdays this season in a bid to open a second night of comedy consisting of Housewife, Fresh Off the Boat and The Real O'Neals.

The move this season has helped ABC improve its Tuesday at 8 p.m. slot 22 percent year-over-year among total viewers. The series is the most-watched comedy in the slot in five years, since the 2011-12 launch of Last Man Standing.

Patricia Heaton, Neil Flynn, Charlie McDermott, Eden Sher and Atticus Shaffer star in the family comedy, with the cast recently renegotiating new deals to return.

The Middle marks ABC's first renewal for the 2017-18 broadcast season, a marked departure for Dungey from her predecessor, Paul Lee, who regularly waited until the Friday before upfronts in May to announce renewals and new series pickups.

The Middle joins Marvel's The Inhumans and potentially Kyra Sedgwick-starrer Ten Days in the Valley on ABC's 2017-18 lineup, with the latter two dramas picked up straight to series. (It's unclear if Valley will launch in the summer or fall; the series is in production now.) Inhumans, meanwhile, will bow in September after the first two episodes debut in Imax theaters over the Labor Day holiday weekend.