Season splitting is the practice of broadcasting one season of a series in two parts, with a scheduled break in between.
It is also known as split television season.
Season splitting is a scheduling strategy.
Why Utilise Season Splitting?
This allows for the second half of the season to be programmed strategically and separately from the first half of the season.
A full season is sometimes split into two separate units with a hiatus around the end of the calendar year, such as the first season of Jericho on CBS.
When this split occurs, the last half of the episodes sometimes are referred to with the letter B as in the last nine episodes (of The Sopranos) will be part of what is being called either ‘Season 6, Part 2’ or ‘Season 6B’, or in Futurama which splits its seasons similar to how South Park does, doing half a season at a time, so this would be season 6B for them.
Since the 1990’s, these shorter seasons also have been referred to as “.5” or half seasons, where the run of shows between September and December is labelled ‘Season X’, and the second run between January and May labelled ‘Season X.5’.
Examples of this include the 2004 incarnation of Battlestar Galactica, ABC’s FlashForward, Fox Kids’s Rhino Man: The Series and ABC Family’s Make It or Break It.
In North American television, a series is a connected set of television program episodes that run under the same title, possibly spanning many seasons.
Since the late 1960’s, this broadcast programming schedule typically includes between 20 and 26 episodes. Before then, a regular television season could average at least 30 episodes, and some TV series may have had as many as 39 episodes in a season.
Until the 1980’s, most (but certainly not all) new programmes for the American broadcast networks debuted in the ‘fall season’, which ran from September through March and nominally contained from 24 to 26 episodes. These episodes were rebroadcast during the spring (or summer) season, from April through August.
Because of cable television and the Nielsen sweeps, the ‘fall’ season now normally extends to May. Thus, a ‘full season’ on a broadcast network now usually runs from September through May for at least 22 episodes.
Since at least the 2000’s, new broadcast television series are often ordered (funded) for just the first 10 to 13 episodes, to gauge audience interest.
If a series is popular, the network places a ‘back nine order’ and the season is completed to the regular 20 to 26 episodes. An established series which is already popular, however, will typically receive an immediate full-season order at the outset of the season.
A midseason replacement is a less-expensive short-run show of generally 10 to 13 episodes designed to take the place of an original series that failed to garner an audience and has not been picked up.
A ‘series finale’ is the last show of the series before the show is no longer produced. In the UK, it means the end of a season, what is known in the US as a ‘season finale).
A standard television season in the US runs predominantly across the fall and winter, from late September to May. During the summer months of June through roughly mid-September, network schedules typically feature reruns of their flagship programmes, first-run series with lower ratings expectations, and other specials. First-run scripted series are typically shorter and of a lower profile than those aired during the main season and can also include limited series events. Reality and game shows have also been a fixture of the schedule.