How the networks handled their primetime schedules after Ukraine special reports

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On Feb. 23, 2022, U.S. networks cut into primetime programming as Russia began attacking Ukraine.

The reports started in the 10 p.m. hour (eastern time) interrupting “Chicago P.D.” on NBC, “Good Sam” on CBS and “A Million Little Things” on ABC in the eastern and central time zones.

Mountain and Pacific time zone audiences would have had different shows interrupted.

NBC and ABC were both in commercial breaks when the special report cut in for viewers in eastern and central time zones (ABC, in fact, had just faded to black on a block of “Million”).

CBS cut off “Good Sam” in the middle of a scene, however.

ABC, CBS and NBC all ended up offering stations the option to push back their schedules by however long the special report took, meaning the episodes airing picked up again after the news update went off the air.

“Good Sam” picked back up at the exact point the network interrupted it.

The choice to push the schedule back was likely an easy call — all three shows that night were new episodes as the networks had mostly returned to their normal schedules.

Due to Olympics coverage on NBC the past two weeks, some lineups featured alternate programming or reruns during the past few weeks — and NBC hasn’t aired new or repeat episodes of most of its shows since the Games started.

It was also a Wednesday night, one of NBC’s highest rated nights, built entirely around the “Chicago” universe shows that also include “Chicago Med” and “Chicago Fire.”

The one downside to the schedule change was that many DVRs likely didn’t pick up on the change. Since the action in each show was suspended during the special report, this caused a domino effect of each show running over its normal allotted time period, so if the show immediately after wasn’t set to record, many viewers may have missed the ending of each episode.

The special report also ended up delaying most late local newscasts in most markets, with them starting about 20 to 40 minutes late, depending on the network and market. Because of this, late night and overnight programming was also affected.

Most stations would have “made up” for the lost time in the early hours of Feb. 24, 2022, by simply joining the network’s overnight or early morning news in progress, meaning these were the only programs that got truncated for most viewers.

The best options to catch what you missed probably include video on demand and streaming services, though you’ll have to find out which one carries your favorite show and its release schedule. Most pay TV providers offer free, ad supported on demand versions of network shows. 

YouTube TV, an OTT paid TV service, allows customers to access on demand versions, with limited commercials, for most major network shows within hours of them airing.

Because these versions based on video files provided directly by the networks, they shouldn’t have the special report interrupting the middle of the show and the program should run as it was originally intended.