CBS announced today that The Amazing Race 7, the seventh edition of its resurgent two-time Emmy winning reality series, will debut Tuesday, March 1 at 9PM ET/PT with a special two-hour premiere episode.

Beginning the following week, The Amazing Race 7 will air Tuesdays at 9PM ET/PT, the same time period in which the sixth installment of the series is currently airing.

The announcement means that The Amazing Race 7 will premiere only three weeks after the finale of The Amazing Race 6 -- an unusually short break that would appear to conflict with the network's previous publicly stated programming strategies.

Last fall, CBS cited a desire for a "cool down" period following The Amazing Race 5's highly rated summer run as its reason to postpone The Amazing Race 6's originally announced September 25 debut until later in the season. "We've seen (evidence) that it really helps to put a little space between one version and the next," CBS Vice President Kelly Kahl told Daily Variety at the time. "We want to let the audience breathe a little before we bring the show back."

However, according to, CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler cited the ratings momentum that The Amazing Race 6 has continued as the justification for the quick turnaround during today's Television Critic Association Press Tour.

The discrepancy would seem to be explained by only a few possibilities -- either CBS has truly changed its programming strategies in the past few months, or perhaps it was being less than forthcoming with the fact that its decision to delay TAR6 had less to do with a desire for "downtime" and more to do with holding the then resurgent series back to serve (as it eventually did, and as we speculated at the time) as a replacement for its first weeknight casualty of the new fall television season. Welcome to Hollywood.

The Amazing Race 6 will end with a two-hour finale on Tuesday, February 8. The Amazing Race 6, which regularly wins its time period in key demographics, is currently averaging 11.27 million viewers, a 4.5/11 rating/share in Adults 18-49 and a 5.1/11 in Adults 25-54. The Amazing Race 7 -- rumored to be featuring Survivor: All-Stars couple Amber Brkich and fiance Rob Mariano competing as a team -- began filming in late November.

Given TAR6's finale date and the fact that Survivor: Palau is scheduled to premiere on Thursday, February 17, it had been speculated that CBS might use The Amazing Race's downtime to move Wickedly Perfect, the new reality series that it is currently airing in Survivor's Thursday time period, to The Amazing Race's Tuesday time period for the balance of its ten-episode run.

However, as part last week's Survivor: Palau premiere announcement, CBS announced that Wickedly Perfect would be exiled to the Saturday evening time period originally intended for The Amazing Race 6 and most recently occupied by The Will -- which it yanked from its schedule following one low-rated episode broadcast.

CBS's The Amazing Race 7 announcement means that like last week's Survivor announcement, The Amazing Race 7's broadcast run will take it through the May 2005 Nielsen ratings sweeps period -- toward which CBS appears to be directing its younger-skewing programming (even more so than usual) in an attempt to ensure that it succeeds in capturing the Adults 18-49 demographic May sweeps win as the capstone to its record-setting season.

While CBS has led all broadcast networks among total viewers for each of the last two seasons, the Adults 18-49 title (won by NBC the last four years, with Fox placing second) has long-eluded the older-skewing erstwhile Tiffany Network. Earlier this fall, CBS won the November sweeps period in Adults 18-49 for the first time since 1980 -- a feat it no doubt hopes to duplicate this May.

Demonstrating the enormous difference that one season can make, season-to-date, CBS is first in Adults 25-54 (4.9/12) with a 0.4 lead over second place ABC (4.5/11) and first in Adults 18-49 (4.0/11), 0.1 ahead of ABC (3.9/11). NBC is third for the 2004-2005 season in Adults 18-49 (3.7/10) and Adults 25-54 (4.3/10) while Fox is -- as it has for each of the past two seasons -- counting on incredible numbers from American Idol 4 (which premieres tonight) to salvage its season.