The first season of one of Showtime’s more successful weekly series, Viacom Prods.’ “The Chris Isaak Show,” will get an early rerun play on VH1 beginning in November.
The deal adds another railroad car to Viacom’s synergy express (VH1 and Showtime are divisions of the conglom), as the company tries to pump up viewership for its networks through massive cross-promotion.
“The PR value of the deal is worth 10 times the value of the cash license fee,” said Jerry Offsay, president of programming for Showtime.
Offsay is referring to the massive promotional campaign VH1 will undertake to hype not only the 17 hours of the first season on VH1’s schedule but the 17 hours of the second season of “Isaak,” which premieres on Showtime in January.
“Isaak” spots will run across all of VH1’s dayparts. And Offsay can’t wait for VH1 to engineer a marathon of all 17 hours that will run right before Showtime’s kickoff of the second season of “Isaak” episodes.
All of this ballyhoo convinced Showtime to set aside its usual insistence on exclusivity for its firstrun series. Sources say the network will resist any attempt by Viacom to set up a sharing arrangement with BET for Showtime’s highest-rated series “Soul Food.” Showtime doesn’t need the extra promotional platform for “Soul Food,” one source says, because the series is already reaching a wide audience.
Fred Graver, executive VP of programming and production for VH1, said that after VH1 collects the Nielsen data on its “Isaak” cablecasts — each episode will run three time a week, once in primetime, once in latenight and once on the weekend — it will sit down with Showtime to talk about more sharing.
If the series runs for four seasons on Showtime, amassing 68 episodes, Graver said VH1 will push hard to buy all of the reruns for five-a-week play.
Isaak is co-executive producer of the series with Phoenix Entertainment’s Arnold Messer and Mike Medavoy and with the writer/creators Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider.