Almost all TV series like Two and a half men, Smallville, The big bang theory, etc. start in Sep/Oct and end in May/Jun with some weeks/months off in between. Their episodes are thrown at you almost every week or every two weeks.

But with some TV Shows like The Universe e.g. the 1st season starts in May (May 29, 2007) and ends in Sep. (Sep 4, 2007) and then the season 2 starts almost immediately in November Nov. 29, 2007 and ends in April 2008.

So my question is. Is there any strict time interval for the term "season" in the movie/TV industry or is it up to the creator/broadcaster?

  • Have you not answered this yourself with the two examples? I don't think Season means anything other than a run of episodes grouped by the creator/broadcaster. It is also a Northern Hemisphere centric question - surely Southern hemisphere seasons will predominantly run April through September(ish).
    – iandotkelly
    Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 13:28
  • the "season" used to be a more formalized time from after August sweeps ("premiere week") till the end of may sweeps. But the creation of the summer season, the proliferation of cable and time shifting have all changed that static, big-3 networks driven calendar.
    – rosends
    Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 13:59
  • 1
    @Derfder I think there is an excellent question here, though your wording may be too specific. Simply asking: "What defines a 'season' in the American television industry?" is a great question, IMHO.
    – stevvve
    Commented Jan 10, 2013 at 22:06

1 Answer 1


Bluntly, no, there is no strict definition for a "season".

Now, traditionally, broadcasters would start showing a season in August, and run until May -- mostly because of the belief that people watched less TV in the summer. But this gave them the opportunity to have shows set during Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine's Day, etc.

Some shows would even make reference to the "summer break". Castle, for instance, would end the season with a "breakup", only to spend the first episode or two having the characters "make-up". But some shows, especially those ending in a cliff-hanger, might have one or two episodes set "last season" to wrap up the loose ends, before jumping ahead three or four months to "now".

Of course, once all the smaller networks appeared, they saw the huge "rerun" gap left in the summer by the broadcast networks, and quickly stepped in. And the premium networks took a card from BBC and created shorter seasons.

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