For decades, the standard model for broadcast television was 26-episode seasons. Traditionally, once a show got to 100 episodes, that show would start replaying the contract, opening up another revenue stream. While it was profitable for the networks, it was difficult for the production team and actors.
Cable models of 10 or 13 episodes were born as needed. Like New York Daily News Reportedly, cable channels simply couldn’t afford to produce the full 26 episodes. But as it has been said, necessity is the mother of invention, as viewers and show creators alike seem to be drawn to the abbreviated half-season model (the latter often reduced to 10).
Noah Wyle, who starred on NBC’s hit medical drama “ER” and TNT’s “Falling Skies,” notices the difference. He told the New York Daily News:
“When I did ‘ER’, we joked about the ‘episode 13 to 17’ incident.” You will feel like you are sleepwalking and repeating a lot of what you did. [In ‘Falling Skies’] Maybe we can push to 12, but if we go beyond that, we’ll start to have a storyline where I find someone’s wallet and try to figure out how to give it back. “
The shortened seasons also mean half the production time. That appeals to actors, allowing cable to attract some big stars for their show. From a creative standpoint, many writers agree that a shorter paragraph is a better model for a tight, cohesive storyline. And while some network shows have adopted the cable model with abbreviated seasons, there’s still a line drawn between network and cable programming expectations.
Which brings us back to the longest running live-action sitcom on TV. The shift in episode numbers has played a big role in keeping “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” relevant throughout the years.
https://www.slashfilm.com/978111/rob-mcelhenney-thinks-this-is-the-key-to-keeping-its-always-sunny-in-philadelphias-fresh/ Rob McElhenney thinks this is the key to keeping it sunny and fresh in Philadelphia