ABC has quietly announced that Ugly Betty is coming back one week earlier than expected on Thursday, April 30th. That’s sure to make Betty fans happy but, for those who enjoy Samantha Who? and In the Motherhood, it’s not a good sign.
The numbers for Ugly Betty aren’t what they once were for sure. The first season averaged 11.3 million viewers and the second fell to 9.4 million. The current season has fallen even further to an average of 8.48 million. Still, the show remains healthy in the 18-49 demographic numbers, where it really counts. The show is also co-produced by ABC’s in-house studio. This gives the network all more incentive to renew the show so that it will have enough episodes for syndication, where the big money is.
While ABC hasn’t officially announced a fourth season, Stephen McPherson, ABC’s Entertainment Group President, confirmed last month that Betty would be renewed.
The same can’t be said for Samantha Who? and In the Motherhood. Both have been struggling in their Thursday night timeslots. Motherhood got off to a very slow start. Because of President Obama’s speech that week, powerhouse American Idol was preempted and the Idol results show was pushed to Thursday, opposite the Motherhood debut. ABC could’ve delayed the sitcom another week to ensure that it got a chance to be sampled but it didn’t. Motherhood premiered to 6.7 million viewers and a 2.2/6 rating/share in the 18-49 demographic. During the sitcom’s four episode run, it hit a low of 4.51 million viewers with a 1.3/4 in the demo.
Samantha Who? has always looked like a winner in the numbers — when it’s followed the very popular Dancing with the Stars. Unfortunately, it performs poorly without the reality show. Last Fall, Samantha was averaging 10 million viewers and a 2.8/7. Once Dancing wrapped, the sitcom plunged to a 6.04 and a 1.9/5.
When Samantha returned on March 26th in its new Thursday night timeslot, the numbers weren’t much better with 6.57 million and a 2.2/6 in the demo. Later episodes have fallen to a low of 4.7 million and a 1.6/4.
These poor numbers have prompted ABC to pull the sitcoms, one week earlier than expected, and replace them with Betty on April 30th.
Of the two series, Samantha has the better chance of coming back next season. Motherhood realistically has no chance and the network had previously cut the sitcom’s episode order from 13 to just seven installments. With the show going on hiatus after this week, there will be two unaired episodes left on the shelf. There’s no word on when they’ll be aired, if ever.
Samantha received two episode orders, totaling 20 installments, for its second season. After this week’s, 14 episodes will have aired. It’s unknown what ABC plans to do with the remaining six. The season two DVD set (slated for August 25th) is expected to contain 17 episodes but that could certainly change.
Based on the recent ratings alone, it would seem that Samantha is doomed. However, with half a dozen unaired episodes left over from this season, it seems likely that the network may decide to hold onto them for next season and potentially order a few more. With the sitcom’s track record, they may want to hedge their bets and try it in another timeslot. We’ll know for sure on May 19th at the network’s 2009-10 upfronts presentation.
UPDATE: ABC decided to pull the sitcoms even a week earlier. The April 23rd episodes of Samantha and Motherhood are being replaced by a repeat of Grey’s Anatomy.