Nick at Nite Nabs ‘Foxworthy Show’

Jul 18, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Looking to take advantage of the popularity of the “Blue Collar Comedy Tour,” Nick at Nite has acquired the rights to tour star Jeff Foxworthy’s sitcom from the 1990s.

“The Jeff Foxworthy Show” ran on ABC and NBC from 1995 to 1997. Only 41 episodes were produced, which meant there was little interest in syndicating the show until Nick at Nite got in touch with Sony Pictures Television.

Nick at Nite will run the show Saturdays from 10 p.m. to midnight beginning July 23.

“Jeff Foxworthy is hot right now,” said Larry Jones, president of TV Land and Nick at Nite. “He did this sitcom and it clearly fits into our formula of family-friendly funny.”

Mr. Jones declined to saw what the network paid for rights to the series.

“When the show was originally on, he wasn’t nearly as well-known as he is now. In some ways, this show could be perceived as pretty fresh and new,” Mr. Jones said.

Running four episodes of the show as mini-marathons on Saturdays gives Nick at Nite a chance to extend its Monday-through-Friday summer stunt block programming strategy to the weekend.

Mr. Jones said the network is in discussions to see whether Mr. Foxworthy will be able to take part in the promotion of the series. “We have nothing planned right now,” he said. “This was a very quick deal with a quick turnaround.”

The network plans to keep that schedule Labor Day weekend, at which point the show might be stripped. But Mr. Jones noted, “If you strip a 40-episode series, you burn through it pretty quick.”

Nick at Nite has run some series with a limited number of episodes. The network did well with Bill Cosby’s short-lived “You Bet Your Life,” for example. “It depends on how big the star was,” Mr. Jones said.

But mostly, shows with more episodes are preferable because Nick at Nite and TV Land viewers enjoy having a consistent diet and knowing when their shows are on.

“These kinds of nonstrip shows sometimes work and sometimes don’t,” Mr. Jones said. “We’re banking on the fact that Jeff Foxworthy is really hot right now.”

Nick at Nite also last week acquired “Friends” under a six-year deal with Warner Bros. Domestic Cable Distribution reportedly worth $500,000 an episode. Nick at Nite will televise the show in prime time beginning in 2011. Turner Broadcasting renewed its rights to “Friends,” but will not have the program in prime time.

Mr. Jones noted the dwindling number of classic sitcoms now on the air has changed the way he must do business. “You make decisions further ahead than you used to. Five years ago we were making decisions on shows that were a year out, or two years out,” he said. “We think we have a pretty good long-range plan, but the business model will probably change as time goes by, if only because with a limited supply, things go way up.”

He added that the competition for those classic sitcoms has grown more intense. It will only ratchet up as Internet video becomes more popular and viewers can find shows on-demand.

Meanwhile, TV Land will launch “Good Times” on July 23 with a 48-hour marathon beginning at 6 a.m. The Norman Lear sitcom will run at 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. daily except Wednesdays, beginning July 25.