Broadcast TV: ABC

Alphabet continues to gain traction with family sitcoms

It wasn’t the best of times, but it wasn’t the worst of times at ABC last fall.

Alphabet continues to gain traction with its family sitcoms Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday nights. For the second year in a row, the net took the unprecedented step of ordering a full season of all its frosh laffers: “I’m With Her,” “It’s All Relative,” “Married to the Kellys” and “Hope & Faith.”

Thanks to those programs, ABC won Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays in the November sweep among 18-49. Net also was helped by reality powerhouse “The Bachelor.” Overall, net finished the sweep in third place among the young demo.

ABC’s drama perf was more troubling, as critically acclaimed “Karen Sisco” failed to deliver Wednesday nights, and was pulled for a midseason relaunch. Net also pulled back its order on “10-8,” while “Threat Matrix” struggled in a tough Thursday slot. While earning critical raves, “Line of Fire” got off to a slow start.

” ‘Karen Sisco’ is still a show I believe in profoundly and we’re going to make every attempt to get audiences to it,” says ABC Ent. prexy Susan Lyne. “We just don’t have many drama time periods on our schedule to promote to the audience that watches dramas.”

On the flip side, ABC has managed to launch and keep comedies on its air, while other nets struggle with the genre. Lyne points out that the Alphabet has premiered 14 comedies since spring 2001 –10 are still standing.

Overall, ABC enters midseason with momentum similar to this point last year. Alphabet execs will have to make sure they don’t repeat the mistakes of last winter, when the net suddenly slumped due to an over-reliance on reality — and tough competition from Fox’s “American Idol.”

“I think starting in February sweep we’ll have a much, much stronger spring than we’ve had in a long time,” Lyne says. “We are the first people to acknowledge that we made some mistakes last spring. We got greedy, we thought we’d capitalize on some reality successes. But we didn’t have the marketing resources to support that many new shows.”

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