Alphabet opens ‘Monk’ window

Detective skein to air Tuesdays at 9 p.m.

ABC has sealed a deal with USA Network to air episodes of the cabler’s hit drama series “Monk” just four days after its initial run.

“Monk” will air Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on the Alphabet web for four weeks starting Aug. 13. The detective series, which premiered to strong numbers on July 12, runs Friday nights on USA.

“Monk” costs about $1.5 million per episode to produce, and USA’s license fee comes to just under $1 million. The license fee paid by ABC will help to reduce the $500,000-an-episode deficit on each episode.

“This is a show we love that hasn’t been seen by enough people,” said ABC Entertainment prexy Susan Lyne. “In the middle of the summer doldrums, it seemed like an interesting opportunity to try out something. Whether it works, we’ll all see.”

USA Network prexy Doug Herzog said he hoped the ABC run “will bring more attention to ‘Monk’ and get it in front of more people.”

In order to drum up interest in the ABC run, USA has agreed not to schedule any additional screenings of “Monk” between Fridays and Tuesdays. “The Mole 2: The Next Betrayal,” which had been running in the Tuesday slot this summer, wrapped up last night. “NYPD Blue” repeats had been skedded to take over the time period for the remainder of the summer.

Making money now

“Monk” will harvest extra revenues right away from ABC, instead of having to wait four years until the series is ready for rerun stripping.

But USA also loses its sales pitch to cable operators that the outlet offers fresh programming not available anyplace else. Herzog said he had mixed feelings about the decision made last month to rerun episodes of USA’s hit original series “The Dead Zone” every Friday night on Sci Fi Channel, a sister network, because the scheduling deprived USA of its exclusivity.

He’s less concerned about “Monk” on ABC, he said, because it’s a short-term experiment that will run for only four weeks.

“The lines have begun to blur over what’s broadcast and what’s cable,” Herzog said. “Repurposing has become the way of the world.”

The arrangement came about thanks in part to the show’s auspices. Ironically, ABC had first dibs on “Monk,” which was originally developed by Touchstone Television, but the net passed on the project.

According to Lyne, ABC was never able to cast “Monk” during the development process. Touchstone eventually sold the rights to USA, but reserved the right for a second run on ABC.

Quirky detective

The show, which stars Tony Shalhoub as an obsessive-compulsive San Francisco detective, is produced by Mandeville Films in association with Touchstone and distributed by USA Cable Entertainment.

“Monk” is one of a growing list of hit Touchstone skeins produced for another net, contrary to early concerns that the studio would solely service ABC.

Besides “Monk,” Touchstone also serves as producer on NBC’s “Scrubs,” which moves into a plum Thursday slot this season, and co-producer on CBS’ “The Amazing Race,” which airs its third installment this fall. (Studio also helped create CBS’ mega-smash “CSI,” but later made the well-documented decision to drop out.)

“Monk” isn’t the only cable show making its way to broadcast — a sort of reversal from the recent repurposing trend, which saw network series’ second windows popping up on cable outlets. NBC will schedule back-to-back half-hours of Court TV’s nightly “Forensic Files” series for four Sundays beginning Aug. 25.

USA Network, meanwhile, has benefited more from repurposing than any other cable network. For example, during the week of July 29-Aug. 4, USA’s repurposed runs of NBC’s hit primetime series “Law & Order: SVU” and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” ended up the highest-rated series on basic cable in latenight among households, adults 18-49 and adults 25-54.

“Monk’s” audience continues to grow, posting its best-ever total viewer numbers (4.9 million) on Friday. The series has averaged 4.6 million viewers (up 95% from the time period’s 2.4 million average last year) and a 1.7 rating with adults 18-49 (up 89% from 0.9).

Andy Breckman, David Hoberman and Rob Thompson exec produce “Monk,” which also stars Bitty Schram and Ted Levine.

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