Dancing with the Stars has been an ABC staple since 2005, but after 16 seasons ABC felt it was time for a change. The network announced Tuesday that the dance competition will be reduced to a two-hour episode one night a week in the fall. This isn't proof of a loss of faith in the series, but an attempt to instill fresh energy, ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee explained during a conference call with reporters.
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"We want to focus it in. We're planning to do two seasons [a year] and we think that by taking the results show and building it into the two-hour block from 8 to 10 on Monday nights, we can really build a sense of occasion to that and drive viewership to Monday nights," Lee said. He also added that the format change allowed the much-anticipated Marvels Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to take Dancing's former spot on Tuesdays at 8/7c, "which we think is the perfect place for that show. It's a one-two punch for us," Lee noted.
Reducing Dancing, whose ratings have dropped since facing off with The Voice, to one night a week isn't as radical a move as one might think. It wasn't until Season 2 that the series added a separate results show, a move that correlated with an expanded cast. Though Lee refused to go into details about other changes Dancing will undergo (including whether Season 17 will see a smaller number of contestants), he did mention that the producers at BBC "have a number of great ideas" for the series' fall return.
One thing viewers can expect of Dancing is a possibly younger, more hip cast. "One of the critical things each cycle is to make sure we nail the casting," Lee explained. "So certainly we're going to make sure as we focus on Monday that we focus as well on casting that will help us age it down."
ABC fall schedule: S.H.I.E.L.D. leads off Tuesdays, Dancing reduced to one night
ABC's decision to revamp Dancing is only a small part of its plan for the 2013-14 season. "We're actually bringing a lot of innovation to scheduling and development this year," Lee said, explaining the network's plan to run its original series in two batches of 12 episodes. During the time in between the fall and spring runs, ABC will air limited series, like new reality adventure show The Quest, specifically built for that gap.
There is potential for these limited series to grow into larger, more traditional broadcast shows, Lee noted, referencing the success of Scandal, which started out with a seven-episode first season but has since grown into one of the breakout dramas of the year.
The network has also decided to hold off until spring on some of its most anticipated shows, including Resurrection, Mind Games and Mixology, to save them "from the clutter of the fall."
What do you think of ABC's decision to downsize Dancing with the Stars? Are you excited about the idea of limited run gap series?