ABC is changing things up in scheduling some of its serialized dramas. Taking a page from the cable model, the network will air what ABC president Paul Lee called “a selected group” of dramas in two uninterrupted runs, one in the fall and one in the spring, bridged by limited series. The series that will follow the new scheduling pattern include Once Upon A Time, Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and likely Revenge, with others TBD. So far, the network only has set up a bridge series for Once, new adventure reality series The Quest. Lee said such bridge series won’t necessarily be all unscripted. Two cycles of 12 episodes would bring the total orders for the shows to 24, which is hard on a complex, serialized drama, but Lee indicated that number has not been set in stone. He said that the network is looking to further shake up the traditional broadcast scheduling model with “quality launches” throughout the season. Lee also said that new fall drama Betrayal is designed as a limited series, airing 12-13 episodes a season. The same applies to midseason drama Resurrection, which will replace it in the Sunday 10 PM slot in midseason.
Faced with plummeting ratings for drama repeats, the broadcast networks had been gravitating toward staying in originals as much as they can throughout the season. However, cable networks, who employ that model, also air multiple repeats of each episode of their original dramas. For broadcasters, the switch to originals eliminates the opportunity to amortize cost over repeats.
So, basically, if I’m reading this correctly, 12 uninterrupted (I can hear the cheers of Oncers all over the world) episodes in the Fall, take a break for a “bridge” series (ie: Once Upon a Time in Wonderland) and come back for the last uninterrupted run of 12 episodes.