In an effort to breathe new life into the MyNetworkTV lineup, the Fox-owned net has acquired off-network rights to AMC’s “The Walking Dead” starting this fall.
Deal calls for MyNetwork to air two episodes of “Walking Dead” from a past season one night a week — unusually restrictive for an off-network sale. The pact was unveiled Wednesday by AMC, 20th TV (which runs the MyNetwork service) and Fox Television Stations. AMC controls all rights to “Walking Dead,” which ranks as the No. 1 show in the adults 18-49 demo across all networks.
“We are fired up that MyNetworkTV will be the exclusive broadcast home to ‘The Walking Dead.’ As we enter the 2014 upfronts, the blockbuster program, which breaks the mold of conventional television, further enhances 20th Television’s media sales slate of hit comedies, dramas and first-run programming,” 20th TV prexy Greg Meidel said.
The episodes will be edited for violent content before bowing on the MyNetwork lineup, which reaches 97% of U.S. TV households. MyNetwork’s broadcast affiliates are subject to FCC content regulation, unlike the AMC cabler. Episodes on MyNetwork will carry a TV-14 content ratings, compared to a TV-MA (mature audiences) on AMC.
MyNetwork has flown largely under the radar in recent years. The entity was formed in 2006 following the merger of UPN and the WB Network, which begat the CW. The MyNetwork moniker reflects the era when News Corp. was still high on its purchase of the MySpace social media platform.
Fox initially sought to make MyNetwork a CW competitor with original programming, but an experiment with telenovela-style drama flamed out quickly. In recent years, MyNetwork’s primetime lineup, which is distributed to station affiliates as a syndicated Monday-Friday service, has been off-network reruns, many from the Fox vault.
The “Walking Dead” deal is a sign that 20th TV hasn’t given up on investing in MyNetwork programming. The core station group for MyNetwork are outlets owned by Fox but are not Fox affiliates — a list that includes WNYW New York, KCOP Los Angeles and WPWR Chicago.
“It’s not often you get to add the hottest show on the planet to your lineup. We just did, and it’s a tremendous get for our stations,” said Fox TV Stations programming chief Frank Cicha.