ABC is jumping on what looks to be a big trend for the 2013-14 TV season. Like NBC and FOX, the Alphabet is planning to pack its schedule with as many original episodes as it can and keep repeats to a minimum.
The upside for viewers is that they’ll get more fresh content and won’t have to guess as much whether their favorite shows are new or repeats in a given week. The bad news, though, is that the waits for some shows to return could become agonizingly long.
“We’re going to be running our originals in batches of 12 [episodes], taking a gap, and then [having] spring premieres when we bring them back,” ABC Entertainment president Paul Lee told reporters Tuesday (May 14) in announcing the network’s schedule for next season. Not every show will air in that pattern, but he mentioned several serialized dramas — including “Once Upon a Time,” “Scandal” and “Grey’s Anatomy” — that likely will.
When they’re off they air, a set of what Lee calls “bridge” series will take their places. An unscripted show called “The Quest” — which sounds a little bit like “The Amazing Race” taking place in Middle Earth — will run while “Once Upon a Time” is on hiatus. Other shows will be announced later.
ABC has employed a simliar strategy for several seasons by having “The Bachelor” air on Monday nights while “Dancing With the Stars” rests. Lee is hoping it works with scripted series too.
Several shows will also have shorter seasons than the typical 22-episode run. New drama “Betrayal” will air on Sunday nights in the fall but won’t go more than 13 episodes. Another new show, “Resurrection,” will take its place at midseason. Lee says both could have the potential to go multiple seasons, but he’s interested in the cable-style model of shorter seasons.
“We really believe that focusing that on 13 episodes is going to make for better storytelling this year [on ‘Betrayal’], and that allows us to bring in what we plan to do with ‘Resurrection’ in January in that slot and launch that as a limited-run series,” Lee says. “And I think that one again is going to benefit from that focus, of saying, ‘Guys, you’ve got a limited number of [episodes], go and make as perfectly crafted a jewel of a show as you did with the pilot.'”