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ABC picks up ‘Modern Family,’ ‘Cougar’

New comedies given full-season orders

After years of struggling with sitcoms, it looks as though ABC has some hot laffers on its hands.

Alphabet on Thursday gave back-nine orders to ratings hits “Modern Family” and “Cougar Town” and, in what can be considered a vote of confidence for a solid newbie, to Patricia Heaton starrer “The Middle” as well.

Twentieth’s “Modern Family” came into the fall schedule as a critical fave and auds appear to agree. Premiere episode garnered 12.6 million viewers plus a 4.2 rating/11 share in the 18-49 demo. Show has been averaging 10.5 million and 3.8/10 over three episodes.

Courteney Cox’s “Cougar Town,” which like “Modern Family” has aired three times, came out strong too. More than 11.2 million viewers tuned in to the Sept. 23 premiere, which earned a 4.4 rating/11 share in 18-49. Through three airings, ABC Studios’ “Cougar” is averaging a 3.8/10 in the demo and solid 9.5 million viewers overall.

ABC is showing faith in Warner Bros.’ “The Middle.” Sitcom, which garnered mostly favorable reviews, is averaging a 2.4/7 in 18-49 and 7.8 million viewers overall in the 8:30 p.m. slot, building in its two airings by half a ratings point over “Hank,” the new Kelsey Grammer starrer.

All three shows picked up by ABC on Thursday are part of the net’s all-new Wednesday comedy block. ABC is repeating “Modern Family” and “The Middle” 9-10 p.m. today for additional exposure.

Net has often had a difficult time gaining traction with its sitcoms, but the early success of “Modern Family” and “Cougar Town” is allowing execs to breathe easy.

As a block, the picked-up comedies “The Middle, “Modern Family” and “Cougar Town” are outperforming the net’s average in the timeslot last year with “Pushing Daisies” and “Private Practice.”

On Wednesday “Modern Family” (3.4/9 in 18-49, 8.82m) and “Cougar Family” (3.2/8, 7.84m) declined for a second straight week but still put up solid numbers. They tied Fox’s “Glee” for second in 18-49, closely behind CBS vet “Criminal Minds” (3.6/9, 14.05m), the top show of the night in 18-49, 25-54 and total viewers.

“Hank” (1.6/5 in 18-49, 6.45m) slid 24% from its preem and fell behind competing CBS comedy “Old Christine” (1.9/6, 6.86m). “The Middle” (2.1/6 in 18-49, 6.79m) held up a bit better for ABC at 8:30 p.m., dropping 19% from its debut and finishing a tick behind the Eye’s “Gary Unmarried” (2.2/6, 6.84m).

(Rick Kissell contributed to this report.)

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