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In television scheduling, a hiatus refers to a break of at least several weeks in the normal schedule of a television program. It can occur during a season of a television program, or can be between television seasons (usually starting in June and ending in August when shooting starts for the next season). In recent years, some television shows have been placed "on hiatus" by their networks for long periods of up to several years, effectively canceling them while leaving viewers and producers with the possible hope of the shows' eventual return.


Planned Hiatus

Many times television stations will implement a hiatus for their programs for the sheer purpose of splitting up a season, just so it will run for longer until the next season is completed. An example of this is NBC's show Heroes, which took a 2 month hiatus starting in February 2007 and returned at the end of April 2007. Some programs also go on hiatus so that their networks can reserve episodes for airing during ratings sweeps, wherein networks compute their advertising fees based on their programs' ratings during that period. Programs "return from hiatus" in time for the sweeps period so as to generate high ratings, and as such usually include special content in programming such as guest stars, controversial and unexpected plots or topics, extended episodes and finales. An example of this is South Park, which usually airs seven new episodes during the spring sweeps, and seven more new episodes during the fall sweeps.


A network may put a show on hiatus before canceling it. This may be to:

  • evaluate the series' quality.
  • warn the producers in an effort to push them to produce a more profitable product.
  • fill its timeslot with another program to compare ratings.

Other reasons for hiatus

On occasion, a series may be put on hiatus for other reasons. In August 2009, VH1 placed its reality series Megan Wants a Millionaire on indefinite hiatus when contestant Ryan Alexander Jenkins was wanted for the questioning as a "person of interest" in the murder of Jasmine Fiore.[1][2] The show would soon be cancelled[3][4] following Jenkins' murder charge.[5]




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