Facing a more demanding audience, ABC will roll out new episodes of the hit Wednesday night series in two bursts, interrupted in late fall by the introduction of Day Break, a new drama.
ABC will stop sprinkling repeats in with new episodes of “Lost” next season, and will launch its fall season in staggered fashion, hoping for a bigger promotional bang for its buck.
The hit Wednesday night serial about a group of people stranded on an island will kick off in September with seven original episodes, then return in late January or early February with the rest of the year’s new installments, said Stephen McPherson, president of ABC Entertainment, in a press conference Tuesday morning. Replacing “Lost” during the dark weeks will be a new series, “Day Break,” which will likely benefit from inhabiting “Lost”‘s time slot for several months.
“It’s a more expensive schedule, but the audience is more demanding right now,” McPherson said, adding that hit reality series have demonstrated that the audience is comfortable with shows that run in their own seasons and then stop. “They run in installments,” he said. “The audience has so much choice today. We have to work more original programming into our schedule.”
McPherson speculated that, in order to amortize costs, ABC may run a repeat of “Lost” as the lead-in to each week’s new episode.
ABC will also roll out its fall shows “in a different manner,” McPherson said, noting that “Dancing With the Stars” will appear in the fall on Tuesdays at 8 p.m., and then give way to a couple of comedies. “You won’t see everything landing in the first week of fall,” he said.
“Grey’s Anatomy”‘s move to Thursday nights, where it will compete with CBS’s hit procedural “CSI,” isn’ likely to hurt the hospital drama, McPherson said, because Grey’s, which appeals largely to women, “is a very different show” than CSI, which attracts a big male audience.
What’s more, “Grey”‘s has a history of going up against big competition and faring well, he said.
“Commander in Chief,” a frustrating failure for ABC this year, may return next season in a two-hour movie that will enable its creator to tell stories he wasn’t able to tell this season, and the film, if it does well, could open the door to a possible second try at a series, McPherson said.
“TV is a game of execution,” he said, and [“Commander in Chief”] didn’t get executed well.”
McPherson said he isn’t worried about having “Desperate Housewives,” which suffered a temporary ratings decline mid-season this year, go up against an NFL Sunday night game on NBC next fall. The ratings slippage occurred across much of network television mid-season and the networks attribute it to a snafu at Nielsen, McPherson said. “Housewives” ratings have been expanding as the season nears its end, he said.
McPherson also outlined plans for ABC’s 2006-07 season during the press conference.
Scheduled to debut next season are six new comedy series—”Betty the Ugly,” “Big Day,” “Help Me Help You,” “In Case of Emergency,” “Let’s RobÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¦” and “Notes From the Underbelly,” along with six new drama series—”Brothers & Sisters,” “Day Break,” “Men in Trees,” “The Nine,” “Six Degrees” and “Traveler.” Alternative series debuts will include “Set for the Rest of Your Life,” “Just for Laughs” and “Greg Behrendt’s Wake-Up Call.”
In addition to the new series, ABC has ordered season renewals for “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Lost,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Boston Legal,” “Dancing with the Stars,” “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” “George Lopez,” “Supernanny,” “What About Brian,” “According to Jim,” “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” “American Inventor,” “The Bachelor” and “Wife Swap.”
“Our success has been driven by great storytelling and memorable characters that audiences have fallen in love with,” said McPherson. “We set out to develop a diverse group of shows that will continue in that vein and also to grow our audience. We want viewers making appointments with ABC Television every night of the week.”
Also joining the fall schedule is “ABC Saturday Night College Football.” Beginning Saturday, Sept. 2 (8 p.m., ET), ABC Sports will televise 12 games, concluding with the Dr Pepper Big 12 Championship game on Saturday, Dec. 2 (8 p.m., ET).
ABC also announced that Prince Lorenzo Borghese, a 33-year-old cosmetics entrepreneur, has been selected to star in the ninth edition of “The Bachelor,” which will be set in Rome.
ABC’s complete 22-hour fall primetime schedule is as follows (all times listed are Eastern, with new shows in bold):
DAY TIME SERIES
MONDAY: 8 p.m. “Wife Swap”
9 p.m. “The Bachelor”/”Supernanny”
10 p.m. “What About Brian
TUESDAY: 8 p.m. “Dancing with the Stars” (new night)/”Set for the Rest of Your Life” (new alternative series)
9 p.m. “Let’s RobÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¦” (new comedy series)
9:30 p.m. “Help Me Help You” (new comedy series)
10 p.m. “Boston Legal”
WEDNESDAY: 8 p.m. “Dancing with the Stars” (new night)/”George Lopez”/ “According to Jim” (new night)
9 p.m. “Lost”
10 p.m. “The Nine” (new drama series)
THURSDAY: 8 p.m. “Big Day” (new comedy series)
8:30 p.m. “Notes from the Underbelly” (new comedy series)
9 p.m. “Grey’s Anatomy” (new night and time)
10 p.m. “Six Degrees” (new drama series)
FRIDAY: 8 p.m. “Betty the Ugly” (new comedy series)
9 p.m. “Men in Trees” (new drama series)
10 p.m. “20/20”
SATURDAY: 8 p.m. “ABC Saturday Night College Football”
SUNDAY: 7 p.m. “America’s Funniest Home Videos”
8 p.m. “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”
9 p.m. “Desperate Housewives”
10 p.m. “Brothers & Sisters” (new drama series)