Can you really still call it fast tracking when only a few shows of a new season have been shown, and those that have, a month or so after their US premieres? Are networks trying to get the best of both worlds here by putting on just a few new episodes – enough for fans to think they are fast tracked, while, at the same time, leaving the majority of the new season until the new year?
Both Seven and Nine have done exactly that.
Nine have only shown three new episodes of The Mentalist since the new season premiered in the US back in September. They have also only shown three new episodes of the Big Bang Theory (thanks to William and Kate which replaced the fourth) and only three new episodes of their favourite show Two and a Half Men.
Seven only aired four new episodes of Bones and Criminal Minds before lapsing back into repeats.
Both networks continue to show repeats of these shows knowing full well that repeats rate quite well, while leaving fans either waiting for months for new episodes or sourcing them by other means.
Ten, on the other hand, despite losing two weeks of programming to the Commonwealth Games back in October have managed to show seven episodes from new seasons of The Good Wife, House and Glee, as well as six of NCIS by the time ratings season ends. They have even gone so far as having one extra episode of Glee (perhaps making up for the one they didn’t schedule on Wed Nov 17) on Monday Nov 29 which is not part of the official ratings survey. These shows are all as close as days behind their US air times.
GO, part of the Nine network have also successfully managed to air Hellcats and The Vampire Diaries so close to the US air dates, that the two shows end up having breaks between new episodes when they are not shown over there.
There was a time when you would see all new episodes of whatever shows were on air on the main channels right until the last week of official ratings. Now, in this new television environment where we have more channels to spread limited content over, and where repeats of shows rate well enough to justify playing them during official ratings time, it seems the true concept of fast tracking is out the window, as networks try to manage stock of new shows, holding back until the new year.
It’s kind of crazy to see just a few new episodes of a show only to have to wait up to three months for more in the new year. Maybe they should just hold back any show they are not going to give a significant run at the end of the year until the next year.
Fast tracking is not fast tracking when a few episodes are show a month after they are in the US, while the rest of the season ends up being many months later.