ABC has handed out an early renewal to their veteran comedy series The Middle, TVWise has learned. The show will return for its ninth season during the 2017-2018 broadcast season.
While not a break-out hit like Modern Family, The Middle has been a very reliable performer for ABC for the better part of the last decade. This season, with the show’s move to Tuesday nights, it has improved its ratings by some 22% year-to-year.
“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”, Channing Dungey, President of ABC Entertainment said in a statement. “The Indiana Hecks have found America’s sweet spot with their authentic, acerbic and always loving take on parenting, work, kids, marriage and life.”
Given its steady ratings performance, in years past The Middle has been left on the bubble right up until the eve of the network’s upfront presentation in New York. Last year, that led to cast member Charlie McDermott booking a pilot for CBS as his deal for the show was up and not being renegotiated due to then network topper Paul Lee’s refusal to make a decision on the show’s future until their own pilots were in. This early pick-up is real sign of confidence in the show from Dungey, especially as the network is now picking up the full cost.
Shopped internationally by Warner Bros. International Television Distribution, The Middle has had something of an interesting history here in the UK. The series was originally acquired by Sky1, who aired it in an early evening 6pm time-slot, but after airing the show’s first four seasons the satcaster opted not to renew their licensing deal with WBITD. It was at that point, in 2014, that Comedy Central UK stepped in and since then they have aired subsequent seasons in a prime-time slot. The show’s eighth season launched on the channel back in October.