ABC is thinking outside the box and revamping the way it airs some of its serialized dramas next season. Series like 'Grey's Anatomy,' 'Scandal,' 'Once Upon a Time' and 'Revenge' (which were all picked up for new seasons over the weekend) will be aired in two uninterrupted runs of twelve episodes each, bringing into play the newly-popular mid-season finale episode for each.
Paul Lee, ABC President, announced that a "selected group" of dramas will be screened in this new format, including the series named above with the possibility of other series being added to the list. But that's not all: not only will the series seasons be halved, but the down-time between blocks of twelve episodes will be filled by new limited series, which are now all the rage at the big networks.
Announced so far is the bridge between the twelve-episode blocks of 'Once Upon a Time,' which will be filled by the new reality series 'The Quest.' Although this particular bridge limited series is a reality show, Lee specified that not every limited series will be unscripted. While the current plan remains blocks of twelve, twenty-four episodes is a higher than standard order for serial ensemble dramas; when questioned on the matter, Lee explained that the blocks of twelve were not "set in stone" and could diminish to nine or ten.
It was also announced that the new drama 'Betrayal' will be treated as a limited run, airing eleven or twelve episodes in total. These moves are being made in the face of falling ratings for repeated episodes; with more competition than ever for every viewer's attention, repeats can easily be passed over for new content on any other channel. This new model ensures that ABC will air the maximum amount of new content over an uninterrupted period.
Will the experiment pay off?