ABC plans live ‘Conners’ episode tied to New Hampshire primary results
Walt Disney Co.’s ABC will air a live episode of its sitcom “The Conners” on Feb. 11, the night of the New Hampshire presidential primary, incorporating news coverage of the results into the show.
The program about a working-class Midwestern family will work the primary results into its story line for separate live airings for the East and West Coasts, ABC said in a statement tied to a Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, California.
On “The Conners,” a spinoff of the revived “Roseanne,” two of the young characters will be watching New Hampshire coverage as one of them works on a school report about the election. The rest of the family will chime in with their opinions about the race.
The network’s move shows the increasing importance of event programming as broadcast television battles for relevance amid the rise of streaming services, video gaming and other distractions. Sports, particularly the NFL, have remained one of TV’s few consistent draws given their live and unpredictable nature, and ABC is looking to replicate that immediacy with its politics tie-in.
Live versions of stage shows and classic sitcoms are another recent trend along those lines, and ABC said it’s planning a live take on Mel Brooks’s “Young Frankenstein” musical for a date to be determined.
In a further effort to grab audiences’ attention, the ABC sitcom “Modern Family” will run a night of five fan-chosen favorite episodes in March, preceded by a repeat of the series premiere. The show is drawing to a close this year after 11 seasons.