Sister Cable Nets to Repurpose All 6 New NBC Series

Aug 29, 2005  •  Post A Comment

NBC Universal plans to give all six of its new prime-time NBC shows extra exposure on its cable channels at the beginning of their runs this fall.

“Surface” will get play on Sci Fi Channel; “E-Ring” and “Three Wishes” will be repurposed on USA Network; “My Name Is Earl” and “Inconceivable” will run on Bravo; and “The Apprentice: Martha Stewart” will get a berth on CNBC.

“Clearly, we want to get as much attention and as much sampling as possible for our fall shows,” said Jeff Gaspin, president of NBC Universal cable entertainment, digital content and cross-network strategy. “What we’re able to do with cable assets combined with a network is play the strategies of both and mix them up.”

NBC Universal has the rights to repurpose these programs on any of its platforms, Mr. Gaspin said.

During the first three weeks of the season, episodes of “Surface,” a family adventure series about a mysterious new form of undersea life, will debut in the series’ regular time period at 8 p.m. Mondays on NBC, then the same episodes will get additional airings on Sci Fi.

During the fourth week of the season, Sci Fi will run a “Surface” marathon in prime time, a strategy Mr. Gaspin said NBC has used successfully in cable, most recently with Bravo’s “Project Runway.”

“You see it a lot in cable, where shows don’t start that strongly, and after three weeks go by you start marathoning the episodes,” he said. “People get to catch up, and then by episode four it spikes.” After a modest start, “Project Runway’s” ratings in week six were triple its launch number, he said.

He added that when the shows run on cable, they will contain promos that ensure viewers know that the program regularly can be found on NBC.

The repurposing is not planned to last beyond the first four weeks of the season.

“Then you start getting into the exclusivity value,” Mr. Gaspin said.

Repurposing used to be a touchy subject because networks and their affiliates believed that a strong bond between program and channel was paramount. But now, Mr. Gaspin said, viewers have adapted and no longer get confused if a show winds up on a different channel.

Affiliates also favor this kind of repurposing as long as “the ultimate goal is to create a hit series for the network,” he said.

Mr. Gaspin said that if an NBC show provides one of the cable networks with a significant ratings increase, the length of the run could be “reconsidered.” But keeping them on cable was unlikely. “This is not about trying to help out the cable nets. This is the cable nets helping out the network,” he said.

NBC is not the only network running its shows on its cable siblings. Fox will run a “Prison Break” marathon on cable channel FX. The marathon is designed to help viewers catch up with the series after its hiatus for the World Series. It will also give viewers who didn’t watch the first episodes a second chance to sample the show.

Here is the cable schedule for the repurposed NBC shows:

The premiere episode of “Surface,” which is produced by NBC Universal Television Studio, will be seen on Sci Fi on Tues., Sept. 20, at 11 p.m. The same episode will appear Fri., Sept. 23, at 6 p.m. and Sun., Sept. 25, at 11 p.m. The second episode will appear on Sci Fi on Thursday, Sept. 29, at 11 p.m. and the first two episodes will be shown Oct. 2 at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.

The third episode will air Tues., Oct. 4, at 11 p.m., and Oct. 9 at midnight.

During the fourth week, Sci Fi will show all four episodes from 7-11 p.m. Oct. 11. On Oct. 16, it will show episodes three and four.

Sci Fi also helped promote “Surface” with a special that looked at the special effects used on the series.

USA will run the first episode of “Three Wishes,” produced by Glassman Media and NUTS and hosted by Amy Grant, on Sept. 29 at midnight. The cable network will run the second episode on Oct. 7 at 2 p.m. The reality series’ regular time period on NBC is Fridays at 9 p.m.

“E-Ring,” the Pentagon action drama from Jerry Bruckheimer Television and Warner Bros. Television starring Benjamin Bratt and Dennis Hopper, is slated for Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC and will appear Sept. 24 on USA at midnight.

USA has also been running a 1%BD;-minute trailer for NBC’s comedy “Earl” from 20th Century Fox Television.

The first episode of “Earl,” scheduled for Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC, will run Sept. 25 on Bravo at midnight. The second episode will run Sept. 29 at 11 p.m.

The first episode of fertility clinic dramedy “Inconceivable,” which is set to air Fridays at 10 p.m. on NBC, will be shown Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. on Bravo; the second episode will run Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. The show is produced by Touchstone Television in association with Tollin/Robbins.

It was unclear at press time when “The Apprentice: Martha Stewart,” from Mark Burnett Productions and Trump Productions, would run on CNBC. Its regular time slot on NBC is Wednesdays at 8 p.m.

Christopher Lisotta contributed to this report.