NEW YORK — CBS’ in-house distribution company Eyemark Entertainment is pitching the reruns of the network’s highest-rated weekly series “Touched by an Angel” to cable networks in a package with the five-year-old sitcom “Dave’s World.”
Sources say the three cable networks most interested in “Angel” are TBS, Lifetime and Family Channel. Eyemark executives were unavailable for comment, but cable sources say Eyemark is talking about a preliminary pricetag of $500,000 per episode for “Angel” and of $450,000 a half-hour for “Dave’s World.”
“We’d love to get ‘Touched by an Angel’ but we’re a lot less interested in ‘Dave’s World,’ ” said one cable-network executive, who requested anonymity. This executive said “Dave’s” price would have to come down significantly. But Eyemark faces some constraints: A too-low price for “Dave’s” could ignite litigation by the profit participants in the series.
Bob Levi, executive VP of the Turner Entertainment Networks, said that “Angel” “has appeal to basic cable, at least in part because its so different from the rough-and-ready hourlong series that have gone to basic (cable) in the last couple of years.” Levi is referring to such rerun hours as Warner Bros.’ “Lois & Clark” (which TNT has bought), MCA’s “Hercules” (USA), All American’s “Baywatch” (USA), NBC’s “Homicide” (Lifetime) and Warner Bros.’ “Babylon Five” (TNT).
The reason “Angel” is almost certainly headed for cable instead of off-network TV syndication, despite its high rating on CBS, is that “reruns of one-hour series are showing no resurgence in syndication,” said Bill Carroll, VP and director of programming for Katz Television, a rep firm that advises TV stations on what shows to buy.
Carroll cited the “disappointing ratings” of the off-network hour that premiered in syndication last fall, “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman,” from MTM TV Distribution, as another example of drama series not working in re-peats because fans of the show already know the ending of the individual episodes. Although “Quinn” is a period piece, Carroll said its demographics are similar to those of “Angel.”
The perceived weakness of “Angel” will probably prevent Eyemark from trying to engineer a simultaneous sale to cable for five-a-week showing and to TV syndication for a double run on the weekend. Also, “Angel” will be available for rerun stripping in the fall of 1998, when there could be a record number of weekly shows trying to shoe-horn themselves into a limited supply of weekend time periods. By September 1998, more than a dozen firstrun hours will be in the marketplace.
In addition, for the first time there’ll be at least five off-network series filling weekend time periods on TV stations — “The X Files,” “Walker, Texas Ranger,” “NYPD Blue,” “ER” and “New York Undercover.”
On “Dave’s World,” Katz advised its station clients at last week’s National Assn. of TV Program Executives market of the show’s weakness as a syndicated sitcom. “Most of the people in the industry are anticipating that ‘Dave’s World’ will go to a cable network,” Carroll said.