ABCâ€™s embrace of diversity seems to be a hit with viewers
J Thoendell stashed this in Film
Before it even premiered,Â How to Get Away With Murder, ABC's new show starring Viola Davis as a renegade law professor, wasÂ dubbedÂ "as close to a guaranteed hit as any show is at the beginning of its season." And lastÂ night's pilot didn't disappoint. The first episodeÂ was seen by an estimatedÂ 14 million viewersÂ â€” a whopping 10 million more than tuned in to NBC'sÂ Parenthood, which premiered in the same time slot. In the 18-49 demographic â€” which is the one advertisers really care about â€” the show,Â created by Peter Nowalk and executive produced byÂ Grey's Anatomy/ScandalÂ creatorÂ Shonda Rhimes,Â earned an unbelievable 3.8 rating.
How to Get Aways with Murder's success comes one night after the premiere ofÂ Black-ish, another new ABC series led by people of color, outperformed expectations. As my colleagueÂ Kelsey McKinneyÂ noted,Black-ish's 10.78 million viewership was only slightly down from its lead-in,Â Modern Family, at 10.93 million. "That's the best premiere night for any show gifted with the post-Modern FamilyÂ slot in four years," writes McKinney.
At aÂ July press conference, Paul Lee, president of ABC Entertainment Group, said that diversity is a "mission statement" of the network.Â "We think that's our job, and in a way that's not so much diversity as authenticity if you're reflecting America."
It's too early to predict whetherÂ Black-ishÂ andÂ How to Get Away With MurderÂ have the staying power to draw audiences back on a weekly basis. But for now, it's worth noting that prioritizing diversity in entertainment seems to have paid off for ABC.