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MyNetworkTV caught up in drama

Service adds sydies to fall slate

MyNetworkTV is expanding its focus on off-net syndicated dramas.

A year after MyNet dropped any pretense of being a broadcast network and focused its energies on programming syndie fare, the Monday-through-Friday service will add repeats of “Burn Notice,” “Without a Trace” and “Monk” to its sked this fall.

Decision to stick with the syndie plan comes as MyNet has increased its ratings this season among total viewers (up 22%, to 2.2 million) and adults 18-49 (up 17%, to a 0.7 rating).

New schedule mix also comes as MyNet has severed its two-year deal with the WWE, which just announced that “Friday Night Smackdown” would move to Syfy this fall.

New sked was announced Wednesday by Paul Franklin, exec VP of MyNetworkTV.

MyNet will stick with “Law and Order: Criminal Intent” repeats at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Mondays. Service is also sticking to its Tuesday night gamer focus — but with a shift.

Runs of the syndie gamer strip “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader” continue at 8 p.m. But at 9 p.m. on the night, MyNet will replace “Deal or No Deal” with original runs of new daytime syndie entry “Don’t Forget the Lyrics” (like “5th Grader,” previously seen as a primetime version on Fox).

Off-net “Burn Notice” runs air at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Wednesdays, replacing repeats of “The Unit.” Twentieth Television distributes “Burn,” which comes from Fox TV Studios and Fuse Entertainment.

On Thursdays, instead of a movie, MyNet will now run back-to-back off-net episodes of “Without a Trace.”

TNT previously held the off-net rights to “Trace” — but as widely reported, the cabler’s pricey deal for the show fell flat, as ratings were disappointing. Time Warner took a $104 million writedown on the deal, TNT yanked it off its sked, and Warner Bros. Domestic TV Distribution was allowed to sell it elsewhere.

As “Smackdown” exits, MyNet will replace it with repeats of “Monk” at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.

In somewhat of a coincidence, the new sked means that MyNetworkTV will look a lot like cable’s USA Network next season. “Criminal Intent” and “Burn Notice” continue to air in originals on USA, while “Monk” was one of USA’s signature series during the 2000s.

Meanwhile, despite the fact that Twentieth TV manages MyNetworkTV, only three of the programmer’s series are distribbed by the syndicator: “5th Grader,” “Lyrics” and “Burn Notice.”

“Criminal Intent” and “Monk” come from NBC Universal Domestic TV, while “Without a Trace” hails from Warner Bros. Domestic TV Distribution.

Insiders said the distributor mix comes as several syndicators turn to the programming service as a viable option for their off-net libraries.

Decision to drop original programming and focus on licensing repeats has been a financially sound decision for the service. With no infrastructure costs, MyNet has nonetheless been able to grow its ratings, from a 0.3 adults 18-49 and 830,000 total viewers during its ill-fated 2006-07 English-lingo telenovela season, to now. That’s a 165% bump in ratings.

Individual syndicators sell their own national ad time on the network. Local stations have likely benefited from selling ad time on familiar off-net fare, rather than originals of lesser-known (or seen) material.

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