Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Another TV Season Ends, Sort Of

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Another TV Season Ends, Sort Of

Article excerpt

The 2013-14 television season is over, with CBS winning in viewers and NBC taking the crown in the advertiser-loved age group of 18 to 49 years old.

But for viewers, and ever more for the networks, the TV season never really ends. Not anymore. The official ending was just a hiccup before new shows start.

The TV season is an ancient construct based on the idea that viewers do most of their watching from the fall to the spring. A standard TV season ran 39 weeks, and shows made enough episodes for each week, then devoted the summer to reruns.

But as the cost of making a TV show grew, studios and networks steadily reduced the number of episodes they made each season. A traditional broadcast-network show can now have roughly 22 to 24 episodes over a full season, although that number varies considerably.

Meanwhile, the idea of summer reruns has steadily faded over the last 30 years, ever since cable networks realized that summer was a good time to put on their original shows. The broadcasters saw their audiences go to cable and, in many cases, never come back.

At first, the broadcasters' response was to put on inexpensive reality shows - both "American Idol" and "Survivor" began as summer series, in 2002 and 2000 respectively - to keep their investment low. While reality shows still have a summer home - witness "America's Got Talent" (returning tonight), "So You Think You Can Dance" (Wednesday) and "Big Brother" (June 25) - networks discovered that many viewers preferred scripted fare, and not just shows that were cheaply cast and made.

So now networks put new shows on during the summer, and sometimes find hits that way. The Canadian-made police drama "Rookie Blue" begins its fifth season on ABC on June 19, and CBS' summer 2013 hit "Under the Dome" will begin its second season on June 30. Oscar winner Halle Berry will be a summer star for CBS when her new series "Extant" premieres on July 9.

Beyond the summer situation, reruns are in bad favor generally, since cable will counter program even during the regular season - and the availability of previously aired shows on-demand and online make them less attractive over-the-air fare. …

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