10:56am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Modern Family' Renewed for 11th and Final Season at ABC
It's official: ABC's Modern Family is returning for an 11th and final season.
The Disney-owned network on Tuesday announced at the Television Critics Association's press tour that it has handed out a formal renewal for the Emmy-winning comedy after its adult stars inked rich new deals to return. The decision to bring back the Steve Levitan- and Christopher Lloyd-created single-camera comedy comes as the series is poised to become owned in-house: Studio 20th Century Fox Television is included in the assets moving to Disney as part of Fox's $72 billion sale.
Modern Family's adult stars — Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ed O'Neill, Eric Stonestreet and Sofia Vergara — each inked new deals with 20th TV to return for an 11th run for the 2019-20 broadcast season. The renewal hinged on the studio signing new pacts with young stars Sarah Hyland, Ariel Winter, Nolan Gould and Rico Rodriguez.
"Chris and Steve have created one of the most seminal and iconic comedies in television history," said ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke. "In its final season, there will be more milestone events that anyone who has been a fan of the series won't want to miss."
Speaking with reporters after her TCA session, Burke confessed that she "would love" if launching a spinoff out of Modern Family's final season were on the agenda. That said, there are "no concrete plans" for that at the moment. A couple of previous spinoffs were rumored to be in development, but nothing has ever made it to the pilot stage.
The renewal arrives as Levitan previously told The Hollywood Reporter that the "plan was to end [Modern Family] at 10" seasons. That, however, was before 20th TV was to become part of the Disney fold, giving ABC ownership of the expensive series for the first time. Were it not for Fox's asset sale, ABC would have had to pay a sizable licensing fee to 20th TV that would have made another season less likely. Taking over ownership of Modern Family makes the series more cost-effective as Disney now has the benefit of collecting backend profits from the show's syndication and streaming deals.
An episode count for the final season, meanwhile, has yet to be determined, though Levitan has indicated it's unlikely to be for a full order of 20 or more. "I thought season 10 was going to be it. I think everyone has said season 11 is it. If we were to do it, season 11 would be it, for sure. And I'm not sure it would be a full season. We're all trying to figure that out," he told THR in October.
Levitan, meanwhile, saw his overall deal with 20th TV expire in July and has been waiting to see what happens with the Disney merger. "I wanted to have the answer to that and what's going to happen to Modern Family before I moved forward," he said. "I have had some lovely offers to come talk to some people but so far, I've been putting all that off until we get things settled. The second-to-last piece was seeing that [Fox execs] Peter Rice and Dana Walden were going to Disney. And then figuring out when Modern Family will end. Then I'll have all the information I need to start to decide if I will make a deal with Disney or start looking elsewhere."
Modern Family has been a major hit for 20th TV, having tied a TV record in winning five straight best comedy series Emmys. The show is currently ABC's longest-running comedy. (Grey's Anatomy is its oldest drama at 15 seasons and is expected to return for its 16th.) In its 10th season, Modern Family remains a top five comedy on broadcast (it is ranked fourth) and regularly wins its Wednesdays at 9 p.m. slot among the all-important adults 18-49 demo. The series also counts a Golden Globe win, four SAG Awards for best comedy, a Peabody, six WGA Awards and four PGA Awards, among others for its stars.
"For 10 years, our characters have bravely faced turning points in life and moved through them to great personal enrichment; we have chosen a different path by doing one more season of Modern Family," Lloyd said.
Added Levitan: "Even after 10 years together, we realized there are still some things our writers don't yet know about each other's sex lives."
Modern Family joins Marvel's Agents of SHIELD as well as The Good Doctor and A Million Little Things — the latter two of which were picked up Tuesday — as the only series (so far) to score early renewals for the 2019-20 broadcast season. The decision to wrap Modern Family comes as CBS' signature comedy, The Big Bang Theory, will wrap in May with its 12th and final season.