Cancellation cuts into Family's plans
NEW YORK — A funny thing happened to ABC Family on the way to creating a two-hour block of rerun series to run a few days after their premiere on the ABC Network: “That Was Then,” one of the planned hours, was cancelled.So the block, which kicks off Oct. 26 as a weekly primetime play on Saturday, has shrunk to an hour, consisting of “Life With Bonnie” at 9 and “Less Than Perfect” at 9:30. Both shows are performing modestly in the Nielsen ratings in their first-play slots on ABC, so the network’s parent Walt Disney Co. is hoping that the repurposed run four night later could act as cross-promotion, helping the ABC Network as much as ABC Family. By contrast, even though their content would make them perfect candidates for repurposing on ABC Family, “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Daughter” and “My Wife & Kids” — series that are scoring in the Nielsens on ABC — will shun the extra plays so that their future value in off-network syndication will not be damaged. Swinging for syndie homer Buena Vista TV, the distributor of these sitcoms, all produced by Disney’s Touchstone TV, has begun testing the waters with “My Wife & Kids,” which has the potential of slugging a $3-million-an-episode homerun in license fees from TV stations in rerun syndication, where it would begin in the fall of 2005. Tha last thing BV TV wants is to give TV stations a bargaining chip to drive the price down based on the sale of pre-syndie reruns to ABC Family.