ABC has announced that critically acclaimed comedy The Middle has been renewed for a ninth season.
“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.”
Normally a low-key strength to ABC’s lineup, The Middle marks the first renewal this season for the network, as its admirable performance upon moving to Tuesdays has allowed ABC to expand on its strong comedy brand. The show has improved its time slot by 22% while successfully launching American Housewife and giving ABC a solid bedrock in the 8:00 hour on which to build. Its renewal is a signal that ABC will continue with early passes to 2017-18, a tradition then-new president Channing Dungey began last year; former ABC president Paul Lee would often wait until the Friday afternoon before upfronts week before handing out renewals and cancellations.
ABC will have an interesting decision to make at upfronts, as their comedies have done much better than their dramas this season. While they’ll need to use most of their best launch pads for dramas, considering how top heavy their slate is right now, their comedies are performing well enough that another expansion might not be out of the question. Considering how durable and easily syndicatable they are, it wouldn’t be a tremendous shock to see ABC take two of their lower-rated comedies and stick them on a low-priority slot in order to pad episode counts and use their best comedy lead-ins on new projects.
Having successfully avoided negotiation purgatory that shows not produced in-house can find themselves, The Middle joins a 2017-18 ABC lineup that includes straight-to-series order The Inhumans, the network’s latest collaboration with Marvel.
The Middle airs Tuesdays at 8:00 on ABC.