ABC moves 'Dancing with the Stars,' fourth edition to debut March 19
By Steve Rogers and Christopher Rocchio, 01/15/2007
The upcoming fourth season of ABC's Dancing with the Stars has two-stepped out of American Idol's time slot on Fox.
After having already previously announced that Lost would move back an hour to avoid airing against Idol's Wednesday night results shows when it returns in February, ABC announced yesterday that Dancing with the Stars will move from a Tuesday/Wednesday schedule to a Monday/Tuesday schedule when the show's fourth edition airs this spring. Remaining in the same Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 8PM ET/PT time periods that last fall's third edition aired in would have resulted in Dancing with the Stars 4 airing against the upcoming sixth edition of Fox's American Idol -- a high-stakes ratings gamble that ABC decided it wasn't willing to risk.
"The great thing about this air schedule is that fans won't have to choose between the two reality hits this spring," ABC Entertainment president Stephen McPherson, while failing to mention Idol by name, stated in the network's press announcement.
Dancing with the Stars 4 is scheduled to premiere Monday, March 19 at 8PM ET/PT with a two-hour episode, followed by another two-hour performance show on Monday, March 26 at 8PM ET/PT. The season's first results show will air on Tuesday, March 27 at 9PM ET/PT. According to ABC, the lack of a first week results show is designed "to offer viewers two weeks to see the performers in action before voting."
Beginning on Monday, April 2, Dancing with the Stars 4 will air its performances on Mondays from 8PM-9:30PM ET/PT. It's results show will air on Tuesdays from 9PM-10PM ET/PT -- which, barring some intentional supersized Idol performance show counter-programming from Fox (something McPherson acknowledges remains a possibility) will allow viewers to watch Idol's performance broadcasts and then flip over to ABC and watch Dancing's results show as they furiously atempt to phone or text message in their Idol votes.
Dancing with the Stars' third season was the second most watched program on television when it aired on ABC this past fall -- but that was in the absence of Fox's Idol, which has owned the January to May timeframe for the last four years. Dancing with the Stars'third season finale aired during the November ratings sweeps period and averaged 27.7 million viewers, making it the series' most watched telecast ever.
ABC will announce Dancing with the Stars 4's cast on Good Morning America sometime closer to its March 19 premiere. According to McPherson, the network is still only about halfway through the fourth season casting process.