It was considered the perfect sitcom for the Trump era, hitting ratings highs in its sixth season. But that didn’t save Last Man Standing from a cancellation today.
ABC has opted not to renew the longtime Friday 8 PM anchor for Season 7 despite the fact that the blue-collar sitcom was ABC’s second most watched comedy this season with 8.1 million viewers in Live +7, only behind flagship Modern Family (8,7 million). It was the third most watched ABC scripted series overall behind Grey’s Anatomy and Modern Family.
The Tim Allen-starring multi-camera sitcom often had gone down to the wire on renewals, with ABC and producing studio 20th Century Fox TV wrangling over the series’ license fee. ABC is supposed to cover the cost of the show at this point in its run, and LMS is on the higher end for a multi-camera sitcom because of the marquee salary Allen commands, but 20th TV had agreed to license fee reductions in the past and reportedly were open to another one. This time, there was no negotiating or bargaining, with ABC simply deciding against another season.
With a central character who is a political conservative and devout Christian adhering to traditional American values, the blue-collar comedy appeals to viewers in the Heartland, a constituency that helped elect Donald Trump as president and has been energized post-election as evidenced by the ratings success of new USA drama Shooter.
That was also a swath of America ABC had been looking to reflect better, mostly on the drama side, as the network’s entertainment president Channing Dungey has noted this season.
In its sixth and final season, Last Man Standing averaged a very respectable for any night and especially Friday, 1.2 Live+same day rating in adults 18-49 and 6.4 million viewers, regularly winning its 8-8:30 PM time slot. While most returning shows were down year-to-year 20-30%, LMS was virtually flat, off just by 5% in total viewers and adults 18-49 (L+SD).
The cancelation is a financial hit to 20th TV, which had sold LMS in syndication where the sitcom has been doing very well, a rare off-network ratings success story these days.