Confirming what most network observers had already expected, ABC has verified that its smash-hit Dancing with the Stars reality series will return for a fourth edition in March 2007.

Given the huge ratings that this season's just-concluded third season generated, few television analysts expected ABC to table Dancing with the Stars' next season until Fall 2007, however given the show's season is also shorter than other twice-yearly network reality shows like Survivor and The Amazing Race, an early January premiere date similar to last winter's Dancing with the Stars 2 debut had also not been expected. In addition helping reduce the chances of burning out what has quickly become one of television's most watched shows, delaying Dancing with the Stars 4's debut until March will also ensure that the fourth season finale airs during the all-important May ratings sweeps period.

According to ABC executive vice president Jeff Bader -- who confirmed the show's March return at an International Radio & Television Society panel discussion held in New York on Wednesday -- ABC has not yet decided whether Dancing with the Stars next edition will remain in the same Tuesday and Wednesdays at 8PM ET/PT time periods that this fall's edition aired in. Remaining in those time periods would result in Dancing with the Stars 4 airing against the upcoming sixth edition of Fox's American Idol megahit -- a high-stakes gamble that ABC, despite having already successfully moved its Grey's Anatomy drama opposite CBS's CSI megahit earlier this fall, isn't sure it wants to take.

Not counting this week's final two broadcasts (highly-rated broadcasts that will only further increase the show's overall season averages), Dancing with the Stars 3's performance and results shows rank fourth and fifth respectively (trailing only Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy, and CSI) in Nielsen's 2006-2007 season-to-date television viewership rankings.

Dancing with the Stars' first edition -- a six-week competition that not only featured a cast that was barely half the size of Dancing with the Stars 3's eleven celebrity field but also didn't even feature a results show broadcast -- aired in Summer 2005.