ABC 2016-17: Huge in-season hiatuses may no longer be a thing

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New ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey had some good news for fans who have become frustrated with several of the network’s dramas taking months-long breaks in the winter: That may not happen as much in the coming season.

This season, eight ABC dramas — “Castle,” “Agents of SHIELD,” “Nashville,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal,” “How to Get Away with Murder,” “Once Upon a Time” and “Quantico” — took breaks ranging from 10 to 13 weeks long in the middle of the season. Based on comments Dungey made to reporters Tuesday, that likely won’t happen in 2016-17.

“We’re not doing as big a gap strategy as we may have done in the past,” she says. “There will be certain [shows] that have slightly longer breaks and some with very short breaks. I would prefer not to have big gaps.”

It also makes sense from a ratings standpoint not to bench shows during the winter. January is one of the highest TV-usage months of the year, so having strong performers on then could be a boost to the network’s bottom line.

ABC’s winter and spring schedule isn’t nailed down yet, so just how the network handles its in-season hiatuses remains to be seen. Dungey did say that “Scandal” — which is not on the fall schedule in part to accommodate star Kerry Washington’s pregnancy — and “The Catch” will return to their Thursday spots in the second half of the season.

“American Crime” and the limited series “When We Rise” are on hand as well, and with no other Marvel show in hand, it’s conceivable that “Agents of SHIELD” won’t take as long a break.

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