ABC Looking To Turn ‘Live In Front Of A Studio Audience’ Into A “Circulation Play” Franchise

ABC is looking to turn Live in Front of a Studio Audience, which scored big ratings for its take on Norman Lear’s All in the Family and The Jeffersons last month into a franchise.

President of Entertainment Karey Burke revealed that 22M had watched the live special since its launch on May 25.

“It is something that we looked at as a franchise if it worked, and we didn’t know if it would work,” she said. “We didn’t know if people would still care and it was nice they did. With something like that we would look to return it, not on a weekly basis, I think these things are tentpoles around which we can build sustaining weekly scripted programming, to use as a big circulation play.

Jimmy Kimmel’s passion project handed ABC a win on the final night of the 2018-19 season by strong margins. From 8-9:30 PM ET, ABC’s live, star-strewn Lear sitcoms reboot averaged 10.36 million viewers and a 1.7 demo rating to outstrip all broadcast primetime competition. It also totalled 15 million combined viewers when including Live+3 and a Saturday repeat. This was above the point six that Kimmel joked to Burke that it might receive.

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Speaking at the HRTS The Network Chiefs lunch, she added, “We’ve been leaning really hard into live event programming. It introduced a whole new generation of people to those shows and those themes in a way that hadn’t been done before and I don’t know if that’s something that would have been as relevant on streaming.”

Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s All in the Family and The Jeffersons starred Woody Harrelson, Marisa Tomei, Jamie Foxx, Wanda Sykes among many others including Jennifer Hudson’s belting out of The Jefferson’s “Movin On Up” theme song and Marla Gibbs’ surprise appearance reprising her role as George and Louise Jefferson’s maid Florence Johnston.

All in the Family originally ran on CBS from 1971 through 1979, starring Carol O’Connor and Jean Stapleton as Archie and Edith Bunker, and tackling then-controversial subjects such as women’s rights, racism and homosexuality. Its ratings success launched a spinoff, The Jeffersons, which ran on CBS from ’75 to ’85.

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