NBC is turning to its sister USA cabler to help fill the Peacock’s Sunday schedule.
Starting March 2, repurposed episodes of USA’s “Monk” and “Psych” will fill the night’s 8 and 9 p.m. slots, respectively, on NBC.
Move was not unexpected given the current Writers Guild strike, which is forcing nets to seek programming beyond what’s on their own shelves.
But NBC Entertainment/Universal Media Studios co-chairs Ben Silverman and Marc Graboff said the Peacock was pondering such synergies anyway, regardless of a strike.
“We were absolutely looking at these programs,” Silverman said. “We felt the character-driven procedurals would play well on NBC and work well as a block together.”
USA has six episodes in the can of “Monk” and “Psych,” which will bow in January on USA. By separating the USA and NBC windows, Peacock execs hope to benefit from the shows without impacting the cable net.
“We think, if anything, it will bring new viewers to USA,” said USA Network/Sci Fi Channel prexy Bonnie Hammer. “Because they’re running after they originally air on USA, we’re not concerned about (impacting the cable’s brand) at all.”
The Peacock previously announced it would air encore episodes this winter of “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” that originally bowed on USA last fall.
“The whole concept of repurposing back and forth we’ve been talking about since the day the company came together,” Hammer said of the NBC Universal merger. “It was always an endgame; it’s just accelerated at this point.”
Another hot USA entry, “Burn Notice,” wasn’t included because it’s produced outside the NBC Universal umbrella (by Fox TV Studios). Graboff said the network never discussed the possibility with FTVS.
NBC isn’t the only net combing the properties of sister cablers; CBS topper Leslie Moonves has said that a cleaned-up version of “Dexter” is on the way to the Eye. So far, Fox and ABC have resisted bringing on shows from other nets — but if the strike drags on, such a move is still possible.
NBC will not represent the first broadcaster outlet for “Monk.” The Tony Shalhoub starrer aired on ABC in summer and fall 2002 (and again for two episodes in January 2004); in that case, Alphabet secured episodes just four days after their initial run on USA.
For a repurposed show, “Monk” performed respectably in its first ABC outing, averaging a 2.8 rating/7 share with adults 18-49 in the summer of 2002. Show didn’t do quite as well in subsequent blocks, posting a 1.9/5 in fall 2002 and 1.7/5 in January 2004.
“Monk” was originally developed at ABC, which ultimately passed on the show. At the time, Touchstone TV sold the rights to USA but reserved the right for a second run on the Alphabet net. ABC didn’t exercise its rights to “Monk” beyond the show’s first two seasons, which opened the door for NBC.
Network-to-cable repurposing remains a common phenomenon — “Bionic Woman” and “Heroes” have found homes on Sci Fi Channel at one point, for example.
But the repurposing of cable series on broadcast TV is nothing new, either. Precedents date back to the late 1980s and early 1990s, when Fox secured repeat runs of Showtime’s “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show” and HBO’s “Dream On.” More recently, ABC has showcased ABC Family shows such as “Kyle XY” and “Greek.”
NBC has also been aggressive, airing episodes of Bravo shows, as well as Sci Fi’s “Battlestar Galactica.”
But “Monk” will become the first cable series to have been repurposed by two different broadcast nets.
Beyond the six upcoming episodes of “Monk” and “Psych,” NBC will be able to dip into those series’ libraries and air episodes from past seasons as well. The execs noted that the close-ended stories on “Monk” and “Psych” made them better candidates for repurposing than serialized shows like “Galactica.”
“This is part of a larger strategy, which you’re seeing online as well, of trying to bring programming to where the consumers are,” Graboff said.
The “Monk”/”Psych” addition resolves the question of how NBC will fill the Sunday night slot once “Sunday Night Football” leaves the air at the end of the year. Long term, Peacock could stick with that strategy; Silverman wouldn’t rule out developing original series cut from the same cloth if the plan is successful.
“When we look at our Sunday night, a mystery block on Sunday feels like opportunistic and good counterprogramming,” Silverman said.
“Monk” comes from Universal Media Studios, Mandeville Films and ABC Studios. “Psych,” which stars James Roday and Dule Hill, comes from Universal Media Studios and Tagline Pictures.
This summer, “Monk” won its Friday night timeslot against all nets, broadcast or cable, among adults 25-54; “Psych,” which aired on the same night, was No. 2 in its slot (against all broadcast and cable competish except ABC) in adults 18-49 and 25-54.