Final season of 'Lost' among highlights of a new TV year

TV is off and running in the new year, trying to get a jump on the Winter Olympics, which arrive Feb. 12 on NBC. In an unusually busy January, series that took a holiday hiatus are returning with new episodes, while shows slotted for mid-season have begun turning up on the schedule.

For some network series, though, the break will last longer. Making room for American Idol and 24 and trying to stretch the season into May, Fox will delay the return of Glee until April 13. ABC will hold back FlashForward and V until March, and The CW will do the same for 90210, Melrose Place and Gossip Girl.

Cable viewers are accustomed to long waits between seasons of their favorite originals, which often produce only 13 episodes a year. Long hiatuses might seem unusual for network TV, but they're all part of broadcasters' move toward so-called year-round programming, as they struggle to deal with audiences' increasing refusal to watch repeats.

Running a show straight through until all episodes are used up, as ABC does with Lost, and then taking it off the air for a long stretch, is one tactic; another is airing a "pod" of episodes, followed by a break, as Fox is doing with Glee.

Neither strategy is likely to make fans especially happy, but one result is more to watch every week of the year — and especially in January and February this year.