NBC may share `B.A.I.T.’

Feb 18, 2002  •  Post A Comment

It looks like NBC is taking the “B.A.I.T.”
Sister syndication arm NBC Enterprises has sold the upcoming weekly action series to the NBC owned-and-operated station group and to the Hearst-Argyle group. On top of that, the series looks likely to anchor the NBC network’s upcoming Saturday-night prime-time action block this summer, replacing movie night, which has run for two seasons.
In addition, plans for a weekly syndicated series featuring MSNBC’s Chris Matthews are moving forward.
“B.A.I.T.,” created by NBC Agency Co-President Vince Manze, follows three female convicts who fight crime as part of a government reform program. It debuts in syndication this fall.
A competing source, who got wind of the “B.A.I.T.” network plan, suggested that NBC may be willing to give the action show a platform for weekend night exposure, given that Saturday is one of the lower HUT level evenings of the week. Should the experiment be a success, prime-time series such as “Arthur,” a knights-of-the-roundtable drama currently in development for the network, would then slide into the block once the fall premieres begin.
NBC executives would not comment on the summer plans, though one source noted that “a lot would have to go wrong for it not to happen.”
As recently as two weeks ago, NBC supplanted its Saturday movie lineup with three consecutive repeats of the three “Law & Order” series (“L&O,” “L&O: Criminal Intent” and “L&O: Special Victims Unit”) on Jan. 26. The trio of repeats finished a competitive second in the night among adults 18 to 49 to Fox’s perennially top-ranked Saturday “Cops”/“America Most Wanted” lineup (3.1 rating/9 share vs. 3.4/10). Specifically, the competing network source said it appears NBC is “trying out various programming formulas” as the Peacock looks to “burn off” its lower-rated movie inventory.
Speaking of new formulas, NBC Enterprises may not be the only syndicator being approached to participate in NBC’s experiment with Saturday programming this summer. Columbia TriStar Domestic Television has already been contacted for a possible prime-time run of the long-running syndicated series “VIP.” The Pamela Anderson-starring vehicle could be used as a lead-in on Saturdays if CTDT and NBC can get stations contracted for the syndicated run to agree to let the network air new episodes before the fall. “VIP” could then continue through the fall as a regular series for the network.
In syndication, “VIP” so far has earned a household rating of a 2.0, ranking among the top five series in the genre, and scores a 1.2 with adults 18 to 49. Repeats begin running on TNN this fall.
Another syndicator rumored to be in the mix is Universal, which is developing a weekly series based on the hit movie “The Fast and the Furious.” Sources say the natural branding of the movie could help both entities, and again “Furious” could remain in the time slot through the season. “Furious” has yet to have any announced clearances for syndication.
The Chris Matthews project would be a half-hour public affairs format in which the host of MSNBC’s “Hardball” would create a series in the vein of “Meet the Press.”
On the strip front, NBC Enterprises executives have committed to completing the season of “The Other Half.” After February sweeps, the syndicator will re-evaluate the series and decide whether to move forward with season two.#
Michael Freeman contributed to this report.