In television scheduling, a hiatus refers to a break of at least several weeks in the normal schedule of broadcast programming. It can occur during a season of a television program, or can be between television seasons (usually starting in June and ending in August when shooting starts for the next season) which is called a mid-season break.
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Many times television stations will implement a hiatus for their television programs for the sheer purpose of splitting up a season, just so it will run for longer until the next season is completed. An example of this is NBC's show Heroes, which took a 2-month hiatus starting in February 2007 and returned at the end of April 2007. Some programs also go on hiatus so that their television networks can reserve episodes for airing during ratings sweeps, wherein networks compute their television advertising fees based on their programs' ratings during that period. Programs "return from hiatus" in time for the sweeps period so as to generate high ratings, and as such usually include special content in programming such as guest stars, controversial and unexpected plots or topics, extended episodes and finales. An example of this is South Park, which used to air seven new episodes during the spring sweeps, and seven more new episodes during the fall sweeps.
A network may put a show on hiatus before canceling it. This may be to:
- evaluate the series' quality.
- warn the television producers in an effort to push them to produce a more profitable product.
- fill its timeslot with another program to compare ratings.
- warn viewers that the show is not pulling its weight in ratings. And, as a result, see how the show performs in reruns before deciding whether or not it deserves another season.
Other reasons for hiatus
- On occasion, a series may be put on hiatus for other reasons. In August 2009, VH1 placed its reality series Megan Wants a Millionaire on indefinite hiatus when contestant Ryan Alexander Jenkins was wanted for the questioning as a "person of interest" in the murder of Jasmine Fiore. The show would soon be cancelled following Jenkins' murder charge.
- The Pokémon anime was put on hiatus in Japan from December 17, 1997 until April 16, 1998 after the airing of an episode which caused 685 viewers to have seizures from the only airing of the episode on December 16.
- The 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike forced several television series (including Pushing Daisies, Eli Stone, Chuck, The Big Bang Theory, and Heroes) to go into hiatus and deferred the scheduled returns of other series such as 24 for an extended period.
- The television series 8 Simple Rules was put on a hiatus for re-tooling after the death of John Ritter.
- The television version of Roman Mysteries was put on hiatus after the kidnapping of Madeline McCann, as the episode involved pirates kidnapping a group of children.
- The television series Two and a Half Men was put on hiatus in the middle of its eighth season because of Charlie Sheen's entry into a rehabilitation center; the show eventually did not continue for the season when Sheen's contract with the series was terminated due to personal issues.
- The television series Sonny with a Chance was put on hiatus during its second season because of Demi Lovato's entry into a rehabilitation center; the show eventually did not continue for the season when Lovato quit to continue her music career.
- After an attempt to cancel Doctor Who by Michael Grade in 1985, Doctor Who returned in a heavily reduced format from 1986 to 1989, each series only consisting of 4 serials over 14 25-minute episodes. On the DVD extras of Survival, in 1989, Jonathon Powell and Peter Creegan explained that they quietly decided not to recommission Doctor Who for 1990 in order that they would not face the reaction that they had attracted previously for cancelling it. It was felt that if the programme were to have any life in the future, it would require a break, although not envisioned as the lengthy 16 year break it had from television. It was essentially in a state of indefinite hiatus as a result of low production values and dramatically low viewing figures, though executive meddling resulted in the show's demise, i.e., the low production values resulting from low budgets, and low viewing figures from no promotional budget and being put against Coronation Street on a Wednesday. Peter Creegan also stated that there was no producer or script editor signed on to carry Doctor Who on because by that time, no-one came forward with a passionate defence or future for the programme.
- "Reality TV show contestant is 'person of interest' in the case of a model found dead in Dumpster." (blog). LA Times. 2009-08-18.
- Seidman, Robert. "Updated: Megan Wants a Millionaire canceled, I Love Money 3 in limbo canceled". Zap2it. TV by the Numbers.
- http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/news/e3i91e05ffd5e045bf12be5885d7f9e26c1. Missing or empty