Networks commits to top cable series for seasons five and six

USA Network has given a go-ahead for seasons five and six of “Burn Notice” — continuing a noticeable trend of cablers showing confidence by reupping shows before having significant ratings data to consider.

Season four is still two months away from launching. But USA says the series — the No. 1 show in cable — will continue to be a ratings juggernaut and wants it to remain in the lineup for years to come.

“Once ‘Saturday Night Live’ makes fun of you,’ how can you not commit to extra seasons?” president of original programming Jeff Wachtel told Daily Variety.

Wachtel is referring to a skit on the venerable NBC latenight franchise in which gameshow contestants were quizzed about “Burn Notice.”

Network execs say seasons five and six will run a minimum of 15 and 18 episodes, respectively. Season four is shooting in Miami and season five will begin production in about a year.

Wachtel said an integral decision in success of the skein succeed came in the development process when USA topper Bonnie Hammer asked that the location be moved from Newark, N.J., to Miami to give it more a blue-sky quality. “That was a crucial moment in the life of the show,” Wachtel said.

Jeffrey Donovan starrer has been a ratings powerhouse since its inception in June 2007. Including live-plus 7 data, “Burn Notice” closed out season averaging 7.1 million viewers and 3.3 million in the 18-49 demo. The final episode was a whopper with 6.1 million tuning in.

USA just finished the first quarter as the No. 1 network in ad-supported cable and recently announced a handful of pilots scripts that it believes will keep its momentum going. Newest series set to preem is “Covert Affairs,” which will start most likely in July.

The month promises to be a busy one for USA as “White Collar,” “Covert Affairs,” “Psych,” “Burn Notice” and “Royal Pains” may all be on the air.

Programming service MyNetwork TV just announced it will air repeats of “Burn Notice” on Wednesdays beginning in the fall.

Besides Donovan, who plays a blacklisted spy, series co-stars Gabrielle Anwar, Bruce Campbell and Sharon Gless. Matt Nix, Mikkel Bondesen and Alfredo Barrios Jr. are exec producers. Skein is produced by Fox Television Studios and Fuse Entertainment.

Also, USA landed strip rights to the first six seasons of “Burn Notice” and those will go into effect as of October 2011.

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