TNT orders another 13 ‘Witchblade’ segs

Comic-inspired skein boasts double-digit demo boost

NEW YORK — TNT has proclaimed its original series “Witchblade” a hit by renewing the show for a second cycle of 13 episodes.

“Witchblade” is the network’s first successful original series, averaging a 2.3 rating for its first 10 weeks on cable (Tuesday at 9 p.m.), which is 64% higher than the movies that were running in the time period a year ago.

Even more important, said Bob DeBitetto, president of original programming for TNT, is the demographic gains: “Witchblade” is delivering solid double-digit increases in all of the young-men and young-women demos. “These numbers are the show’s real success story,” he said.

“Witchblade” represents a nice contrast from such previous TNT series disappointments as “Bull” and “Babylon 5.”

DeBitetto declined to discuss license fees, but sources say TNT pays its sister company, Warner Bros. TV, about $950,000 an episode for “Witchblade.”

Warners shoots “Witchblade” in Toronto at a cost of $1.3 million-$1.5 million an hour, relatively pricey for a basic-cable series. But the series includes choreographed action sequences and elaborate special effects. Warners will make back the deficits through sale of the series in foreign markets and future rerun sales to basic cable in North America.

DeBitetto said one of the reasons for the solid ratings of “Witchblade” is the unusual format, which “puts a strong female lead in what’s traditionally a male category: the action-driven cop show.” Yancey Butler plays Sara Pezzini, a New York detective who gets possession of a “living weapon” that gives her superhuman power.

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