NOVEMBER 15, 2006 -
Fox is leaning toward running 22 consecutive episodes first-run of Prison Break this season straight through, choosing not to pull the series at the end of the November sweeps as it did last season, before bringing it back in March, Preston Beckman, executive vp, strategic program planning at Fox said today at the International Radio & Television Society breakfast session.
Last season, Fox pulled the series after the Nov. 28 episode and brought it back in first-run on March 20, airing it through May 22 which was the final week of the season. At the time, Fox got complaints from viewers who wanted to watch the series in consecutive weeks, like Fox airs its drama series 24.
This season, Fox has already aired 11 episodes but will continue running the next 11 originals. "We do have a little break because we will be airing two BCS [college Bowl Championship Series] games and a two-hour 24 premiere in January (in the Prison Break time period)," Beckman said, but it will run straight through after that."
Prison Break, much like other serials, ABC's Lost and Desperate Housewives, and its own 24, do not do well in repeat.
NBC also plans to air its freshman hit serialized drama, Heroes, straight through in originals, after only a short hiatus, beginning Jan. 22, according to Mitch Metcalf, executive vp, program planning and scheduling at NBC. The network has aired eight so far and will air three more in fourth quarter before bringing the series back in all first-run in January.
And ABC, which aired just six episodes of Lost and now has the series on hiatus, will bring it back in February and run the remaining 16 episodes. Jeff Bader, executive vp, ABC Entertainment, the network is hoping to keep viewer interest up during the hiatus by airing clips from the upcoming episodes during telecasts of Daybreak, the drama series that will be airing in the Lost, 9 p.m. Wednesday time period between now and February.
Bader said ABC decided on this strategy over two others--hold back premiering Lost this season until January and running it 22 episodes straight through, or airing the six episodes as it did and then airing Lost repeats until February when the originals return. Of the first option, he said the network was making too many other scheduling moves, like moving Grey's Anatomy to Thursday, and bringing on eight new shows, "plus we weren't sure how Dancing With the Stars would do." So the decision was made to open the season with some original Lost episodes. The second option was not selected, Bader said, "because Lost repeats are like crimes against humanity" when it comes to getting viewers.
CBS will pull its freshman serialized drama hit, Jericho, after its first-run Nov. 29 airing and bring it back in first-run in February also, rather than airing it in repeat during its first-run hiatus. Kelly Kahl, executive vp, programming operations, for CBS, said Jericho will still be available in repeat for viewers online, and said the network will be airing commercials touting the return of the show in February. --with Marc Berman