Iger aims to revamp Saturdays

Disappointed by its performance this season with one-hour dramas, ABC will take a “different direction” in specifically targeting Saturday night in its development plans for next year, according to ABC Entertainment president Robert Iger.

Saying that it’s difficult to justify the cost of high-ticket dramatic shows versus their performance in such time periods, Iger remained sketchy on the web’s strategy but said the Saturday mix will involve developing variety shows as well as other non-traditional forms of reality programming, in keeping with the financial limitations of the night.

“Programming expensive hour dramas on Saturday night is not a viable economic (approach),” Iger said during an informal interview, adding that a network is “committing them (dramas) to a struggle by putting them there.”

ABC currently airs the new hours “Covington Cross” and “Crossroads” from 8-10 p.m. Saturday and is considering placing “The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles” that night when it returns after a forced hiatus due to its poor performance on Mondays.

ABC has two one-hour series in the bullpen–“Jack’s Place” and “Sirens,” both from ABC Prods. –but probably won’t call on either until later in the midseason , with the network to air the Oliver Stone-produced “Wild Palms”– a six-hour, self-contained story that will be told on a weekly basis — prior to their arrival.

The new hour will likely go at 10 p.m. Tuesday or Wednesday or in “Homefront’s” Thursday slot.

Iger added that the decision to premiere “The Jackie Thomas Show” in December was made to avoid high-powered CBS Tuesday movies during November sweeps.

ABC has ordered additional episodes of New World’s “The Wonder Years” and expects to end up with a full season of the series, having come into the year with only 13 episodes. Iger cited the show’s steady performance opposite “Beverly Hills, 90210” among the pleasant surprises of the season.

He also acknowledged that ABC made a concerted effort to keep reality shows off its fall schedule, noting that the form skews older and inspires “no enthusiasm” on Madison Avenue.

In terms of scheduling, Iger noted that the network is trying not to confuse viewers and will make “as few moves as we possibly can.”

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