Viewers can expect to go on down to "South Park" a little less this season.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone, co-creators and writers on the series, announced that beginning with the show's upcoming 17th season will see the number of episodes drawn back from 14 to 10. Instead ot the 14-episode season split into Fall and Spring viewing, the 10 episode season will run straight through starting on September 25th.
The move was brought about not by any decline in viewership, but rather as a means to keep the stories fresh and the comedy strong on the long-running series, while also avoiding burnout for Stone and Parker.
"Why did we do seven and seven to begin with?" Stone said in an interview with the New York Times. "We just sort of made that up. And we are switching to 10 for the same reason. It just sounded like a good number, and we won't break up the year so we can more easily do other stuff."
The pair cite the growing shift in television viewing from the standard first-run format to increased DVR and online viewing. "There is no appointment viewing anymore," Stone said. "In our first season, you had to show up on Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. on the comedy channel to catch the show. Now, I don't even know where or how people watch our show. We sort of don't really care about ratings. It's more important to come up with work that will add to the library in a way that we're proud of and will make people want to catch the show wherever they want to."
Parker added, "Now instead of putting out two albums a year, we are only going to do one, which is more manageable and ensures that it will be something we are proud of."
While the move does not signal a lack of confidence in the series from network Comedy Central, it does seem to indicate perhaps a growing disinterest in the series from creators Parker and Stone. The two recently opened their own production company, Important Studios, for the purpose of exploring other projects such as a film based on their hit musical "Book of Mormon".
However, cool off those keyboards, internet commenters and online petition starters: the co-creators insist that the move will ensure that they can engage in side projects while still maintaining the high quality of the series that brought them to the dance.
"We want to keep South Park going for a long time to come, and given what is going on in television, I don't think it matters as much how many episodes you have," Stone said.