The start of Australia’s summer usually coincides with a drought of decent television, but the Emmy Award-winning series Homeland and the blockbuster US drama The Blacklist will continue to be fast-tracked when the official TV ratings season ends in November.
The Seven Network and Network Ten have guaranteed that first-run and fast-tracked episodes of some of the more popular TV series will remain during December and even January.
Official ratings end on November 30 and start again in February, but with networks now keen to fast-track US content, some popular TV shows will be available during the holiday period.
Seven’s director of network programs Angus Ross said its fast-tracked content was dictated by the US networks – and in the northern hemisphere the run-up to Christmas is a time for top-rating television.
He said Blacklist would air in the first week of December but would then go into a natural hiatus.
However, there would be first-run and fast-tracked episodes of How I Met Your Mother, Castle, Bones, Grey’s Anatomy and the Amazing Race on Seven during the summer.
Ross said keeping people accustomed to tuning in to Seven was an all-year-round exercise and not confined to the official ratings period.
“I think you have to perform every night of the year and we will continue and follow the natural story arc for these shows,” Ross told AAP.
“The Blacklist will have one episode in December and then it will take a break.
“The US networks usually have a natural break point two or three weeks before Christmas.”
A Ten spokeswoman said Homeland, Sleepy Hollow, American Horror, Glee and Supernatural would still be on air during the non-ratings period.
Homeland screens on Ten just a few hours after it has gone to air in the US, while the remaining shows are programmed to fast-track inside a week.
Ross said there was an inherent danger for Australian networks when they fast-tracked shows as they were at the whim of US network executives.
He said they can suddenly change their programming schedule and delay the screening of a series for a week or two, which has a flow-on effect in Australia.
Recently, for instance, the comic book-based series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D was held back at late notice, he said.
Seven has announced two new US dramas for 2014: Intelligence and Resurrection.
Ross says he is confident they’ll be more successful than the station’s early 2013 offerings, Last Resort and Red Widow.
Both Red Widow and Last Resort were cancelled during their first season.
Fantasy drama Resurrection has been produced by Brad Pitt. CBS is behind Intelligence, a cyber thriller that has been viewed as a play on the 1970s series The Six Million Dollar Man.