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Is Black-ish the next Modern Family?

Black-ish could be the new Modern Family
Black-ish could be the new Modern Family
ABC

Black-ish, a new family comedy, premiered last night on ABC. 10.78 million people watched Andre Johnson (Anthony Anderson) and his wife Rainbow (Tracee Ellis Ross) banter wittily. Those millions watched because ABC placed the show in the best possible position to succeed: right after its massively popular, Emmy-winning hit Modern Family. But even with that hefty lead-in, Black-ish's performance was impressive.

Black-ish's viewership, at 10.78 million, was only slightly less than Modern Family's 10.93 million viewers. That's 98.7 percent of Modern Family's total viewers. Since the number of viewers a show retains from the show leading into it is a very important number from a network's point-of-view, that's phenomenal for the new show.

Of course, some small number of Black-ish's viewers were likely people who tuned in to watch it specifically, but 89 percent of Modern Family's audience among 18-49 year olds (the group advertisers care the most about) stayed to watch Black-ish, another phenomenal retention number for any show, but especially a new show.

That's the best premiere night for any show gifted with the post-Modern Family slot in four years. Cougar Town only kept 86 percent of Modern Family's viewers in 2010, and Super Fun Night kept 76 percent last year.  Happy Endings kept just 54 percent in 2011, and The Neighbors only 58 percent in 2012.

Part of this is because Modern Family is no longer pulling in the viewers it was in 2010 and 2011, which makes it easier for Black-ish to pull a higher percentage of a smaller number. But of all the shows that have premiered after Modern Family, Black-ish came in second to only Cougar Town in terms of total viewers, with 11.28 million viewers.

Cougar Town, though not always perfect, will end up running for six seasons, so the future looks bright for Black-ish.

The following chart displays how well shows have done after Modern Family among the 18-49-year-old audience. Each number listed is a Nielsen rating, a rough percentage of the total number of TVs in that demographic that were turned to the program at that time.

chart for black-ish

data courtesy of Spotted Ratings