This past week, ABC’s Tim Allen-starrer Last Man Standing drew a season high 7.75 million L+SD viewers — its highest viewership since the 7.84 million that tuned in to its second season finale on March 22, 2013.
Despite a revolving door of lead-outs ranging from Malibu Country (2012-2013) to The Neighbors (2013-2014) to Cristela (2014-2015) to Dr. Ken (2015-present), Last Man Standing has quietly and successfully anchored ABC’s Friday night comedy block for the last five seasons.
Now in its sixth season, Last Man Standing is averaging 6.34 million L+SD viewers through 1/6/16 — down only 6% from last season. But for the last three weeks of available data (albeit during the holidays when many other DVR-heavy shows were on break), it has become a factor in L+7 DVR lift with an average gain of 2.04 million viewers.
This is a record for the series by a wide margin as its previous high in DVR lift was 1.33 million viewers for the 2014-2015 TV season — the show’s fourth. That season, the show averaged a Friday night high of 8.18 million L+7 viewers. But if these current numbers hold, Last Man Standing could not only surpass last season’s numbers, but also that current high to wind up with its highest L+7 viewership average since its first season when it aired on Tuesdays at 8pm and averaged 9.13 million viewers.
Tim Allen’s star power from his years starring in Home Improvement from 1991 to 1999 certainly launched Last Man Standing in the fall of 2011 and may have sustained it through the Friday move. But as Deadline suggested last month, there are a couple of other factors as well that are likely to be contributing to the veteran show’s durability this season:
- Last Man Standing was sold into cable syndication this past fall to The Hallmark Channel, Freeform and CMT. As was the case with highly-ranked NCIS several years ago, people finding the show in syndication are now watching the show in originals on ABC.
- The conservative views espoused by Allen’s character Mike Baxter on the show are not only in line with Trump-supporting voters who helped put him in office, but also with the inevitable shift in the political climate with a GOP-controlled government.
And we’ll also add a couple of our own:
- The dearth of multi-camera sitcoms — particularly one headlined by a baby boomer in a millennial-obsessed culture — makes Last Man Standing an appealing alternative for some to the hip, niche, upscale, sophisticated single-camera comedies on NBC and FOX that Last Man routinely outdraws.
- On Hallmark Channel, Last Man Standing airs after the long-syndicated Home Improvement to create a Tim Allen block that can brings fans of the old show to the new show and back to that first bullet point.
All this should bode well for a potential seventh season unless ABC decides it has enough for syndication and opts out.
Sources: Deadline, TV Series Finale