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ABC Exec Addresses WandaVision, Mandalorian or Other Disney+ Fare Joining ‘Strike-Proof’ Schedule

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(L-R): Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff and Paul Bettany as Vision in Marvel Studios' WANDAVISION exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.
Courtesy of Disney+

When ABC released its “strike-proof” fall schedule, many were shocked by what was not on it — meaning any original episodes of scripted series.

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Marvel TV Shows, Ranked: WandaVision, She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel, Loki and Other MCU Fare

Some were also surprised to see that the broadcaster had not filled any time slots with fare from its streaming sister, Disney+.

When the WGA strike launched on May 2, TVLine, for one, had speculated that the likes of, say, the streamer’s flagship Star Wars series The Mandalorian (which debuted three-and-a-half years ago) or its first MCU series WandaVision (which debuted almost two-and-a-half years ago) might find a home on ABC. (ABC to date has only aired The Mandalorian‘s very first episode, on a Friday back in February, where it drew 2.5 million viewers).

Instead, ABC thus far is planning to elude an impact from the writers strike with a fall slate chockablock with game shows, reality-TV and back-to-back Abbott Elementary reruns on Wednesday.

As a guest on THR’s latest TV’s Top 5 podcast, Ari Goldman, Senior VP Content Strategy & Scheduling at ABC Entertainment, addressed the possibility of Disney+ content at some point joining ABC’s “strike-proof” schedule, if the work stoppage proved to be an extended one.

“Certainly, we had conversations — and we’ll continue to have conversations about the Disney portfolio,” Goldman said.

It is, however, easier said than done to drop the likes of Loki or National Treasure: Edge of History onto a broadcast schedule.

“From a scheduling standpoint,” Goldman explained, “there are thing we have to work through,” including “the formats of these shows that are not designed for broadcast.”

WandaVision episodes, for example, run anywhere from 31 to 51 minutes — without any ads. Similarly, The Mandalorian episodes are as short as 33 minutes, or as long as 59.

“We have a certain duration we have to fit to and accommodate our ad load,” Goldman said. There also can be “standards and practices concerns that we have to address.

“Everything and anything is on the table,” when it comes to filling the ABC schedule if the strike runs long, the scheduler allowed. “But I don’t think we’re there yet” in needing to pull Disney+ content off the bench.

Besides, Goldman repeatedly noted, fresh episodes of unscripted fare don’t exactly put up shabby numbers. Bachelor in Paradise (returning on Tuesdays this fall) is ABC’s No. 3-rated entertainment program (tie), and Celebrity Jeopardy! (which will lead into Bachelor in Paradise) performs as well as the network’s best-rated scripted fare.

“The alternative shows we’re airing this fall are [successful] linear performers,” the scheduler said. “The ABC audience, they love these game shows. They watch Wheel and Jeopardy every night [during drive time], so I think we should acknowledge there is a wide swath of older-skewing viewers who do love exactly the product we’re putting forth. That said, we’ll see what happens.”

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