Photo credit: ABC/Eric McCandless.
On Tuesday, ABC announced its 2019-2020 television lineup to the press and to advertisers at the annual Upfronts in New York City. The network gave some insight into Dancing With the Stars and the plans they have for Season 28.
2018 was a tough year for the long-running dance competition show. Its abbreviated four-week Athletes season frustrated fans, and Season 27 was a roller coaster of surprise departures and uneven theme weeks. ABC knew they needed to find a way to refresh the show for Season 28.
ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke gave some insight into what the network is planning for Season 28. The news should excite longtime fans because it’s clear the network has faith in the show and is putting some muscle behind it.
The most notable quote from the press conference call was Burke mentioning that the network was “going after bigger stars than we have in a long time.” She did not elaborate on what that exactly meant in terms of star wattage because there is a big difference in Hollywood between a George Clooney and a D-list reality star. Hopefully, DWTS will settle somewhere in-between and strike a buzzworthy balance for Season 28.
One season per year
In order to go after these bigger celebrities, ABC is going to settle into the once-a-year format with DWTS. The two-seasons-per-year scheduling started to water down the franchise and did not pack a punch in terms of drawing viewers and talent to the table.
“Resting the show does help us focus on talent and we will go after people that we think will be the strongest," said Burke. "That has been a gift and the producers are chomping at the bit to bring it back next fall."
This makes DWTS more of an event show each fall now since fans will have to wait nine months before a new season begins again. While it might take some adjusting for those who are used to a spring season, it's a strategy that is extremely successful in the U.K. with Strictly Come Dancing.
Burke then added more intrigue to the DWTS story by sharing some format possibilities with the press, “We have been pitched some really fun format changes for Dancing With the Stars by the executive producers but right now they are top secret. [Reality chief] Rob Mills and I had a meeting with them a couple of months ago and got very excited about some of the new ideas that they were talking about to freshen up the format. It’s still the show that the audience knows and loves, but they’ve got some good ideas in terms of how to surprise people in new ways.”
Dance Network confirmed with several sources that producers took a hard look at Strictly's format during the winter break and analyzed what made the show so successful with viewers. It's quite possible that elements from the BBC series will be adapted to the U.S. series in the fall. ABC wants to make DWTS appointment television once again.
Dancing With the Stars: Juniors
The most notable absence from the schedule for dance fans was DWTS: Juniors. The freshman show didn't make an impact on ratings, but it was a fan favorite because the series had so much heart. In its timeslot is the reboot of Kids Say the Darndest Things with Tiffany Haddish.
Burke revealed that negotiations had been going on a long time with Haddish and if the network was not able to finalize the deal, their summer slate of game shows would have filled that hour on Sundays. However, ABC still did not mention DWTS: Juniors. Dance Network later learned that Juniors will not be returning.
With all of the news to digest and a full slate of possibilities for the fall, DWTS is coming back with a vengeance. Season 28 has a renewed energy and a mission to bring all back to the ballroom.
Don't miss Dance Network's latest 'To The Pointe' interview with 'DWTS' pro Gleb Savchenko: