The fourth season of The O.C.
aired in the United States from November 2, 2006 to February 22, 2007 and consisted of sixteen episodes. The O.C'
s final season aired Thursdays at 9:00 p.m. ET in the United States on Fox, a terrestrial television network. Fox tested a new timeslot by airing the second episode on Wednesday at 9:00 p.m. ET against ABC's Lost
and CBS's Criminal Minds
. With Lost
about to enter a three-month hiatus, Fox hoped that changing the timeslot for The O.C.
would attract back viewers it had lost since the end of the previous season; however, the move was unsuccessful and the show returned to its Thursday timeslot.
Due to the death of Marissa Cooper in the third season finale, this was the first season without one of the "core four" characters of Marissa, Ryan Atwood, Seth Cohen, and Rachel Bilson; however, executive producer Stephanie Savage said that Marissa's death "set up a new direction for the show". The shows creator, Josh Schwartz, promised this season would be different, saying it would "focus on [the] core characters and their relationships". He added that that there was no point in worrying about ratings and that he "wanted to get the show back to an earlier place, try to get back to some of the humor and heart of the show that maybe wasn't as evident last year". The season was released on DVD as a five-disc boxed set under the title The O.C.: The Complete Fourth Season
on May 22, 2007 by Warner Bros. Home Video. The season was also made available in the American versions of the Xbox Live Marketplace and iTunes Store. Before the season premiered on television, it was available through on demand streaming. In the US, streaming was available from October 26, 2006 at 3:01 a.m. ET onwards, through Fox Interactive Media's MySpace and MyFoxLocal stations.
In Canada, the fourth season was simulcast on the terrestrial CTV Television Network. Additionally, as a result of an agreement between Warner Bros. and CTV, the first episode was available to be streamed from October 30, 2006 at 12:00 p.m. ET onwards, through the CTV Broadband Network. In the United Kingdom the season premiered on January 9, 2007 on E4, and in Australia it was broadcast by Network Ten on November 7, 2006 at 8:30 p.m. (local time).