Fall TV: Get Details on the Split-Season, Non-Stop Schedules for Grey's, Once, Other ABC Shows

ABC Split SeasonGet ready for a strong dose of Grey’s Anatomy and more Peter Pan than you find in an 16-oz. peanut butter jar, as ABC uncorks its split-season plan for several dramas.

RELATED | Fall TV: Your Handy Calendar of 100+ Season and Series Premiere Dates

As ABC president Paul Lee announced at the Television Critics Assoc. summer press tour, the network has developed split-season plans that will cleave runs in half, serving up each batch on a relatively uninterrupted schedule. Thus far, we have details on how three of the shows will roll out.

GREY’S ANATOMY
Premieres: Thursday, Sept. 26, with 12 episodes in a row*
Returns from Winter Hiatus: Feb. 27, with 12 episodes in a row

RELATED | Grey’s Shocker: Sandra Oh Leaving After 10 Years — ‘I Am Ready to Let Cristina Go’

SCANDAL
Premieres: Thursday, Oct. 3 with 10 episodes in a row*
Returns from Winter Hiatus: Feb. 27, with 12 in a row

RELATED | Why Scandal Stars Are Rallying for an Even Better Season 3, Plus 28 Teases for the Premiere

ONCE UPON A TIME
Premieres: Sunday, Sept. 29, with 11 in a row* (in large part set in Neverland)
Returns from Winter Hiatus: March 9 (the first Sunday after ABC’s Oscars telecast), with 11 in a row

Also, though exact episode counts were not available:

NASHVILLE
Premieres: Wednesday, Sept. 25, with limited repeats and preemption
Returns from Winter Hiatus: Feb. 26, with limited repeats and preemption (UPDATE: Nashville will air four new episodes across January/February.)

VIDEO | Nashville Season 2 Sneak Peek: Rayna Flatlines!

REVENGE
Premieres: Sunday, Sept. 29, with limited repeats and preemption
Returns from Winter Hiatus: March 9 (the same night that Resurrection replaces another freshman drama, Betrayal, in the Sundays-at-10 slot)

Additionally, the freshman spin-off Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (Thursdays at 8) will be replaced, at least temporarily, by the new reality series The Quest starting Jan. 2.

Among the other midseason hour-longs that will temporarily replace the split-season shows, ABC has on deck Mind Games (starring Steve Zahn and Christian Slater) and Tricia Helfer’s Killer Women.

* Except for, presumably, major holidays (when HUT levels are extremely low) and pre-scheduled events

You wanted fewer repeats and multi-week breaks; now you’ve got ‘em. Do you like ABC’s plan?

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108 Comments
  1. George says:

    So if this is the case I guess that means Grey’s & Scandal are gonna air new episodes on Thanksgiving? (Also on Halloween, but I guess that’s not necessarily abnormal)

    • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

      I wouldn’t take it that literally. My interpretation is “no nilly-willy breaks.” I can’t imagine ABC will burn a fresh episode on a holiday night/eve that traditionally has an anemic HUT level.

      • Sam says:

        So then it won’t be 12 weeks straight… So annoying… 3 months between epi 12 and 13 that’s ridiculous….but hey I am just the viewer….what do I know….

        • Tania says:

          I’d rather have 3 months between eps than on two weeks, off two weeks. It messes with the momentum of a serialized drama. They’ll give us a cliffhanger at the end of the last ep in an arc, and they made improve storytelling by cutting down on repitition. While it’s good to really play the character moments and really play all the beats in a story, too often on a nighttime serialized drama, attempts at doing that fail. It just comes off as repetitive filler. By having clear 12 week arcs, my guess is that will improve storytelling.

        • Elyse says:

          that’s how the walking dead and other cable shows do it and it works for them. I don’t mind it. that way there will be less competition for DVR space for my ABC family shows when they are on in January.

          • Bev says:

            That’s a good point! Maybe this will also help The Fosters when it returns in January!

          • Elyse says:

            @ Bev definitely! i’m actually worried about how the Fosters will do in the ratings this winter. it did alright this summer but winter is totally different. keeping my fingers crossed for it!

      • Cassandra says:

        When will you be releasing the fall premiere schedule?

      • Tania says:

        Matt, correct me if I’m wrong…. my one concern is that the HUT for December is pretty much just as bad as American Thanksgiving. I’m in Canada so I have no impact on ratings. ABC doesn’t care about me. I’d love a new episode on Thanksgiving Thursday, because it’s not a holiday for me. But I get why they wouldn’t want to do it.

        What I don’t understand is why they didn’t have Grey’s (for example… as it airs on Thursday, I would think it’s the most greatly impacted by the T-Day holiday) start a couple weeks earlier so it wouldn’t be an issue – 12 in a row ending on Nov 21. They still get all of Sweeps. Yeah, it’d be a slightly longer hiatus, but the benefits it would’ve provided in terms of storytelling might have been worth it. We all wait through the summer.Fans get that shows take breaks. Shows give us cliffhangers to make sure we feel compelled to return. Given all that, a few extra weeks of hiatus doesn’t strike me as being so bad. Certainly better than Grey’s airing in in the wasteland that is earliy December.

        • David says:

          Possibly because viewership levels in the summer are almost as bad as they are during the holidays. There is a reason the new tv season starts in the Fall.

          • Kristina says:

            Yeah, but it’s not even starting til the end of September. Once school starts, people are pretty much into their routine and home at night. Backing up the premier a couple weeks would actually work fine I think.

  2. Brandy says:

    Oh, I thought Revenge, Scandal, Once Upon a Time were getting 24 episodes orders. 12 and 12. :(

  3. Nerdbot says:

    Thank God! They learned from their mistakes. The main reason why Revenge and OUAT lost so much of their audience was because of the horrible scheduling (and some convoluted plots, in the case of Revenge). Let’s hope that the ratings improve now that they probably will not compete against the Grammys, Super Bowl and other major events.

  4. Troy Rison says:

    This is a great format. For years people have been complaining about the way ABC shows (particularly Grey’s Anatomy) have so many 2 or 3 week breaks between episodes. I would much rather have consistency with one big break than the inconsistent schedule we’ve had previously.

  5. stephen says:

    Ill treat it like i do trueblood or any cable show. Only instead of waiting a yr for my show to come back i only have to wait a few months. its much better then 2 shows 3 weeks off 2 shows 2 2weeks off 2 shows 3 week off crap u get . This way i get my seasons in straight doses.

  6. Ed says:

    if this was british tv, these would have been 2 seasons (or series as they would call them)!

    • Tina says:

      True, but if this were British TV, we would have totally new programming during the summer months. If the networks found out about this, they might have twice as much programming on. Instead of running reruns in the summer, put something totally new on during the summer.

  7. mspenn1013 says:

    Finally!!!
    I’ always liked how ABC ran all of NYPDBlue all in one shot starting in January. Took TPTB long enough to figure this out.

  8. The Rookie says:

    Like the idea, but can this be cost effective? They will have to churn more series, and that could represent the risk of a flop. And what would they do next? No being reluctant to change, but just asking since this is new for all of us.

    • johnhelvete says:

      ABC has a few unscheduled shows to potentially air during the break. Most of the networks produce a few extra shows in case a new show that debuts in the fall completely flops. Also ABC could try repeats of newer comedy shows to give those shows more exposure and try them out on different nights,

    • David4 says:

      How do you figure there will be more shows?

      There have always been a lot of shows, they would shove in new shows, move things around, it was annoying. Now they have a chance to get new shows, more so for midseason, to grow into hits like Scandal did.

      Also I think more shows could mean more money. You can have more hits, or take more chances which will help spread word that network TV isn’t quite dead yet.

  9. Clayton says:

    Honestly, I feel like Revenge could have benefitted from having no breaks. I know a major criticism of it last season was that no one knew when it was on. It needs to hold onto its audience or else there wont be a season 4.

    • Maryann says:

      People who really like a serialized show tend to watch every new episode, and not care for repeats. This means that wnen thee are 2-3 repeats in a row, a lot of people will miss when their show is returning with new episodes. If this happens a couple of times, they may quit watching. I think the new split season idea can only help these shows.

    • Poppy says:

      I agree. I was disappointed with how last season aired. I know I missed at least an episode or two because I didn’t know when new episodes were on!

  10. Evan says:

    Yes yes yes. I’ve loved this idea since it was revealed at upfronts in May. It really follows the cable structure, and while it can be frustrating to have those long spans of no episodes, it’ll be great when the show is back. And like someone said earlier, if I can wait a year for new episodes of shows like Homeland, Girls, etc., then a few months off won’t completely kill me. I hope this strategy works out, that the ratings are good (and hopefully for shows like Revenge and OUAT, they improve) and that other networks will begin to follow suit (especially other serialized series).

  11. tracy robinson says:

    I moved here from the UK and never liked the way repeats were thrown in every few weeks so this suits my TV viewing habits nicely. Just need the shows to get cracking again now!

  12. Mike R. says:

    It can’t possibly be worse than there schedules were last season, but the decline in the ratings for at least ONCE and Revenge had more to do with their sophomore slumps than the erratic scheduling, hopefully both of them also return with a significant uptick in quality as well.

  13. Martina says:

    I kinda wished Castle followed that format too. I suppose these shows began filming several weeks ago, right? I believe this plan looks good on paper but they’ll struggle a little bit to finish the episodes on schedule.

    • johnhelvete says:

      Think ABC is mainly doing this for their serialized shows and not a procedural like Castle, that repeats well. You might be right about sticking to the schedule, if a new show completely flops in the fall, than ABC might have to change things around.

    • Samuel says:

      it is no way that Castle could keep up with schedule like this. Usually it takes 7-8 days to film an ep of Castle, sometimes even 10 days. They won’t be able to keep up with schedule like this with their current filming schedule….

      • S. says:

        8 days is common for dramas. Castle is paired with shows like DWTS and they won’t just run it out of sequence from that show without there being an extra special hour of Bruno’s favorite dances or something. ABC is more concerned with scheduling them in concert with one another rather than Castle fans seeing it in a row. The ones they’re doing the new scheduling with are more hypersensitive to breaks in viewership momentum. Castle is pretty consistent usually. The series low for Castle came after they wrapped up DTWS leaving Castle off for a week in December, then putting it behind an Extreme Makeover: Home Edition special that I think drew a sub-2.0 or something in the demo because everybody thought it was cancelled and a rerun. A lot of viewers didn’t realize Castle wasn’t already on hiatus. That was ABC’s fault and they’ve probably learned not to do that again.

  14. Marie says:

    I think I’ll like it! I like watching Suits, PLL and last year White Collar, with big breaks but no interruption.

  15. Jennifer says:

    I think this is great. Cable networks already do this with some of my favorite shows like Pretty Little Liars and White Collar. Even if I need to wait three months for a set of new episodes, it is way better then one episode every month, which I swear happened with Once and Nashville all last year. It totally take you out of the story with so many breaks and makes it hard to remember when there is a new episode unless you have a series recorder. I hope all of the major networks follow suit and maybe make better shows for the Jan-March season like over the summer.

    • johnhelvete says:

      Jan-March would be the perfect time to air an limited event series aka mini-series, that Fox and NBC seem interested in bringing back due to the success of The Bible and Hatfield &McCoys. Or they could try something like Under The Dome, but only do 8 episodes instead of 13 for the first season, and if the show is successful, do 13 episodes in season 2.

  16. DreamRose311 says:

    Totally unrelated, but love that picture of Hook…

  17. Michael says:

    One word why this is happening, people: OLYMPICS!

    • johnhelvete says:

      That is part of the reason. The shows that air on Sunday get preempted several times in January/February for special events, the break seems like a good fit even without the Olympics. Also Scandal split their second season up with two separate storylines, and it might have influenced other serialized shows to try the same thing.

      • Isaac says:

        the second season of scandal was/seemed ‘split’ because the back 9 episodes were ordered in October/November when the first 13 episodes were already crafted. Watching the back 9 episodes also felt like an ‘after-thought’. Scandal works best when they have a huge well thought out story before they write the first episode. To me, the first half of the second season of Scandal was perfection and at its prime; and I see it struggling ever since…
        I know, I’m just looking through the comments now and its been like, four months since you posted this. I just feel very strongly about this.

    • N tTVf says:

      Bingo – right on the button. NBC’s Olympics will cause the other nets to stay clear during February.

      Probably just as well – am opportunity. This way, ABC and co. can find out if having a long break during winter between fall and spring uninterrupted runs will work okay. I think it can – the other option, of having new episodes popping in and out each month all season long was not working out, particularly for ABC.

    • courts says:

      So true. And poor America with their horrifically bad Olympic coverage.

  18. DavidSask says:

    “with limited repeats and preemption” still sucks!

  19. twilight123 says:

    I’m SO excited about this! I’m glad to see ABC be brave and take a chance. I think it’s going to benefit their shows (and their ratings) greatly. ABC, in particular as compared to other major broadcast networks, has a lot of night time “soaps” that I think will benefit from having a weekly showing with no repeats. They are addictive by definition- why break that up if you can gain momentum and steamroll it?

  20. whitealker says:

    Its what Grimm and The Walking Dead have been doing all along. It you’re going to run a show there’s no better way than two arcs of non-stop new episodes

  21. It’s what NBC has been doing for a couple of years now. Yet, people can’t stop complaining about it. ABC does it: “OMG, it’s gold.”

    Blergh.

    • the girl says:

      Right?? People screamed bloody murdah last year when Revolution went on this schedule. I thought it was genius then and I love that ABC is doing it now, but I certainly expected a far greater objection.

  22. Teag says:

    I LOVE this. Much better than 2 on, 3 off, 1 on, 2 off etc.

    I appreciated very much that Following did no repeats, as well as Revolution. And every cable show that I watch.

  23. jonnychistar says:

    My sister is on Mind Games, so I am thrilled to see the way this is all taking shape!

  24. Ram510 says:

    So are we to assume Scandal and Greys Anatomy will have thier winter finales on December 12? I’m guessing there won’t be any episode in the first couple weeks of January?

  25. Andy says:

    If I can wait 10 months between seasons of Psych, I can definitely wait 3 months between new episodes of OUAT and Revenge.

  26. A fan says:

    While we are mentioning others who do this: Teen Wolf started it this year. Anyway, I like the idea of these shows doing 2 mini seasons (which are just about as long as a normal cable season) rather than one big long season. Cuts down on the “meh” episodes in the middle. Faster pacing, fresher second half. Me like.

  27. Jessica says:

    Count me in the minority here…HATE this!!! You are either a dedicated viewer/fan of a show, and you know when it airs (despite frequent breaks and re-runs), or you’re not! That is not a valid excuse for poor ratings! What IS the culprit is poor writing and story-telling and that’s been the problem at Grey’s for a long time! Split seasons won’t correct that!

    We are already forced to endure one ridiculously long hiatus in the summertime! WHY IN THE WORLD would I, as a fan of the show, want to endure ANOTHER 3 month hiatus in the middle of the season??? It does not make it year-round because the long summer hiatus will still be there. This just ADDS to the time it’s off the air!

    There is a reason I don’t watch any shows on USA and other cable networks…shows that stay on hiatus for most of the year don’t keep my attention! This is just stupid, stupid, stupid!!!

    • Saabgirlatx says:

      I didn’t like the look of it either, but if you think of it as actually two seasons, it does make sense. We’ll just have to deal with the purgatory that will be jan and feb. but someone also pointed out the Winter Olympics will be on so we don’t want our shows suffering having to go up against the games.

    • David says:

      @Jessica – So in your first paragraph you say you are either a dedicated fan and know when it airs or not. (blaming the people and not the schedule) and then in your second paragraph you say if a show is on hiatus for a long time it looses your attention (blaming the schedule and not the people.) You basically just disproved your own argument. Nice job.

    • Kris says:

      I’ll add to David’s comments about Jessica’s inconsistencies. If the beginning and end dates of the season are pretty much the same, then your argument that splitting the season in two parts adding to the time the show is off the air doesn’t make sense. It will be the same number of episodes, therefore the same number of weeks that need to be ‘missed’, either in one large chunk or spread haphazardly.

    • Katherine says:

      Why would you want to endure another 3 month hiatus? Because you’re a dedicated fan of a show, of course. Didn’t you just say that?

  28. Babygate says:

    So the Greys hiatus will be about 2.5 months long. That kind of sucks but its over the holidays so I’m sure we won’t feel the brunt of it. It seems like a good idea. The multiple breaks in a season get confusing and sometimes people forget and don’t tune back in. I like the continuity as it plays on cable. Besides, if I’m reading this right, they will be showing other original programming to fill the gaps and that will be very nice. I still think that Alice in Wonderland should have been left as a filler for OUAT and I still believe that Betrayal will be one of the first shows to be cancelled.

  29. GeoDiva says:

    If I can wait anywhere from 6 to 12 to 18 months for new seasons of my favorite cable series, then a small 3 month break is no problem. I rather get mini seasons instead of two on, one off, etc….

  30. Trip says:

    Thank you ABC! This will allow the shows to structurally have two shorter, solid arcs, essentially making one season split into two and closer to the superior British model of tv. Hopefully the shows will take this gift and use it effectively in the writers’ room!

  31. greysfan says:

    I think its a great idea. I hate it when tv networks give us one episode on, one episode off. Its annoying and confusing at the same time and it hurts a show. This is what happened to ABC’s Sunday lineup especially this season. I really hope both Once and Revenge bounce back this season.

  32. Hopefully splitting the seasons in to two will amp up the drama, like Scandal has done the past season, for all of the participating ABC dramas!

  33. Elyse says:

    I can’t wait for it! I’m happy they are trying this out. maybe other networks will follow suit.

  34. Philly In DC says:

    I wish the week before the second half airs they do a “here’s what happened” episode for us old folks who cant remember what we had for breakfast

  35. SK says:

    3 months off in between? I’m not sure how I feel about that. I know Grimm did that and it was tough to get back since I forgot what happened. Of course, I got back on it. I understand that we do not want the one new epi this week, off for 2 or 3 weeks, another 1 or 2 new and off again. So I guess I will just sweat it out.

    • wesen says:

      Grimm takes full advantage of the 2 mini arcs format: the first one involved waking the Slepping Beauty and exposing the Prince (great twist on the fairtale, by the way!). The next to give Juliette her memories back and link Renard to the Grimm and the trailer.

      This one seems meant to link the Royal family to Renard’s Grimm and set up a conflict all over again, but Once Upon a Time lost track of everything, like Pinocchio in Jiminy Cricket’s funeral or how close the Evil Queen and the Jiminy Cricket got to be. They invented a convoluted past for Bae that contradicts everything from the first season and lost me before they added Frankenstein(??), Robin Hood (???) and Branabas Collins into the mix.

      Some writers need to watch their own shows not to contradict themselves: Renge’s, Scandal’s and OUAT’s are one of those writers IMO.

      • Ash says:

        I whole heartedly agree that OUaT needs to really step it up in the writing department but what exactly was contradictory about Bae’s backstory?

  36. Marsha Quinn says:

    I remember the good old days when a season was 26 episodes that were repeated over the summer. I hate the hiatuses. You get into a pattern with your television viewing. I don’t watch sports, so I don’t look forward to the world series or any other sort of playoffs.

    • Nikki says:

      I agree!!! It feels like “the good ole days” are gone. Some shows have a, b, and c parts to their seasons and it just gets confusing.

  37. Amanda says:

    I think this is fantastic. I like that the main networks are moving towards like how cable and the UK have shorter blocks or seasons. Plus for the Sunday shows like “OUAT” and “Revenge” it moves it away from the other award shows and the Super Bowl that decreased viewers. Also being a college student this this very similair to semesters. I noticed CBS is trying it with their 10 pm Mondays timeslot having 3 shows being on in the Fall, Spring, and Summer. That’s just like most colleges and universities.

  38. Sarah says:

    At least there will be the Olympics and Downton Abbey in the winter, along with the aforementioned The Fosters, which I love watching with my 16-year-old daughter (who also watches Grey’s and Scandal with me).

  39. Kissan says:

    OUAT, GA and Scandal aren’t going to be going all in a row. OUAT won’t be on Nov 24th because of the AMA awards, GA and Scandal won’t be on Thanksgiving(who cares about Halloween), Nashville will take two breaks:one for the CMA awards on Nov 6th and two for Thanksgiving Eve on Nov 27th. I don’t know about Revenge.

  40. courts says:

    I always lose track of television shows when they do this and just end up downloading them when I remember.

  41. Kissan says:

    Anyways I love this idea and I think it will work out. I hated it when they did one week off, two weeks off or a month off, especially with Nashville. I remember in February Nashville was off for two weeks then they came back with one episode then they took ANOTHER month off. I was pissed. But if I can wait through the whole summer for my fall shows to come back, if I can wait for Pretty Little Liars(which isn’t coming back until October) and True Blood(which isn’t coming back until next summer), I can wait 2 to 3 months for these shows to come back.

  42. Mary says:

    I love it! LOST did something similar when it was on and it’s so much better to watch a show without so many weekly interruptions. Well done, ABC. Running the network like a cable channel.

    • wesen says:

      That’s the one! I had forgotten the third example I was going to add. You’re absolutely right: Lost did this too.

  43. liz says:

    Great! I love this. I’m about as obsessive about tv as a gal can get (with schedules and notes, etc) and even *I* was never sure when a new OUAT episode was on last season. I can only imagine how frustrating it was for people who don’t put as much time/energy into is as I do (cause they have lives lol)

  44. I hate this split season mumbo-jumbo – and repeats. Just play the season & let it be over in March/April. I often have just flat stopped watching shows because it takes too long for them to come back – even ones I’ve watched for years.

  45. Kristina says:

    I like it a lot. A lot of cable networks do this and it doesn’t hurt them; quite the opposite. I’m all for it!

  46. Looks like all the shows are starting to use the Pretty Little Liars model. I’m not mad at that. I think it’s better.

  47. maxisatroll123 says:

    I think this is a much better schedule especially for ouat and revenge who huge ratings declines partially because of the schedule now if ouat and revenge will uptick in quality and have less complex storylines their ratings should bounce back up.

  48. Alex says:

    Most people seem to be too lazy and “false fans” to check whether an episode is new, so I’m not surprised that this idea is meeing with approval there. True fans of a show find out this stuff with no trouble.

    • Jim says:

      That’s not even remotely fair or true. The majority of people on here seem to be happy about this news because it gets rid of the annoying 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off crap. It takes away from the flow of the show. Yes it’s easy to look it up and see when a show is new but that doesn’t make it any less annoying. It doesn’t mean someone is less of a fan or not a “true fan”. People are busy, it’s a fact of life. Knowing upfront that a show is going to be new for weeks in a row is very helpful to people. It has nothing to do with being lazy.

  49. Abby says:

    This is a fabulous plan. Good for ABC.

    • Lisa says:

      I am fine with the split season thing but I hate that Revenge is being moved till 10pm. I have to get up at 5:30am and wont be able to stay up till 11 every sunday night. Its not right to change a shows time after being able to watch it for years now.

  50. Abby says:

    I legitimately think this is a great idea. It’s worked for the Walking Dead and should work with these shows, as well, which require close attention to the plot unlike your procedurals, ie. NCIS.

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