One Chicago reruns on NBC need to make a comeback

ONE CHICAGO -- Pictured: "One Chicago" Key Art -- (Photo by: NBCUniversal)
ONE CHICAGO -- Pictured: "One Chicago" Key Art -- (Photo by: NBCUniversal) /

One Chicago reruns have virtually disappeared from NBC during hiatuses, but here’s why Chicago Med, Chicago Fire and Chicago PD need repeats.

There were supposed to be One Chicago repeats on NBC this Wednesday, and then there weren’t anymore.

The network had initially planned to air episodes of Chicago Fire, Chicago PD and Chicago Med on Dec. 18 according to their original primetime schedule. But then they changed their minds, pulling those repeats in favor of more Ellen’s Greatest Night of Giveaways.

And unfortunately, that’s become standard operating procedure. NBC doesn’t typically air reruns of the One Chicago shows when they’re not in season. You’ll see a repeat used to plug a hole if the shows are off for a week, or occasionally on a Saturday.

But during the two hiatuses from May to September, and then over the winter holidays, the three shows disappear from the network’s airwaves.

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This is not an entirely uncommon practice. Reruns used to be the way things were done for decades, until TV networks shifted to year-round programs, and now once a show finishes its run there’s some other series lined up to take its place.

Yet particularly during the winter break—which is right in the middle of the TV season and usually less than two months long—there’s still a place for the occasional rerun.

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There are two reasons to air a repeat. One is to give fans a chance to catch up on an episode that they may have missed the first time around, and the other is to draw in new viewers who happen to come across it or need something else to watch that week, and end up becoming fans.

Particularly for the One Chicago franchise, where 90 percent of the midseason finales involve a cliffhanger of some kind, both are important.

NBC should (and often has) aired the midseason finales the week before the spring premieres, in order to remind viewers what happened in said cliffhangers and rebuild their interest in finding out what happens next.

But what about keeping the show on the air during other weeks, when it still pulls in viewers and could pull in more? The network has commonly aired Law & Order: Special Victims Unit repeats on Thursdays, even though that series is lower-rated than One Chicago and reruns are available on a multitude of other channels.

And it was a bit of a head-scratcher to see them replace the Chicago shows with the Ellen specials since those specials had literally premiered the week before. What was the logic in repeating what viewers had just seen?

In contrast, Chicago Fire, PD and Med have already been off for several weeks, and historically their reruns have still brought in a solid number of viewers. Plus there’s not any other place on TV to see either Fire or Med.

You can stream limited Med episodes on Hulu, if you’re paying for a subscription, and Fire is on two streaming services—but that’s different from having a TV presence, where fans don’t have to look up a website or pay for access, and the show is right in their homes like clockwork.

Hopefully, we’ll see NBC reruns make a comeback the next time there’s an extended break. With the One Chicago franchise a cornerstone of the network, it’d be a wonderful thing to keep the fan base engaged directly with NBC and not needing to look elsewhere.

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