It’s been 7½ years since ABC ended its TGIF Friday comedy block in May 2005. Since Paul Lee took over the network in the summer of 2010, restarting TGIF has been on his wish list. He got to do it this fall with Tim Allen’s Last Man Standing and Reba McEntire’s Malibu Country. There was skepticism about the move in May as ABC had been successful with its unscripted/newsmagazine Friday lineup. Even ABC brass were probably second-guessing themselves this fall as ABC consistently dominated the night paced by Shark Tank, which excelled at 8 PM, hitting series highs and topping all Friday competition.
But last night’s potent debut of ABC’s comedy block and strong performance of Shark Tank in its new 9 PM slot that powered ABC to sweep every half-hour of primetime in 18-49 will probably silence critics. Starting things off at 8 PM was the second season premiere of Last Man Standing (1.9/7, 7.8 million total viewers). That was down 47% from the comedy’s series debut on Tuesday last fall but was up 12% from the season finale and Last Man‘s best demo showing since March. At 8:30 PM, Reba McEntire proved her drawing power with the debut of her new sitcom Malibu Country (2.2/7, 8.9 million). It built on its lead-in and posted ABC’s highest numbers in the half-hour in five years. It tied CBS’ Blue Bloods as the highest-rated scripted Friday debut in than five years, since ABC’s drama Women’s Murder Club in October 2007. The new comedy block also boosted Shark Tank (2.3/7, 7.3 million) to new series highs, up 28% 18-49 from last week for another No.1 demo finish on Friday. ABC’s sweep was completed by 20/20 (1.5/5), which was No.1 at 10 PM. ABC won the night in 18-49 with season highs in the demo and total viewers. (more…)