TNT buys ‘Psi’ & Web site

Deal estimated at $7.5 million

NEW YORK — TNT has bought the exclusive rights to reruns of — and the Web site for — Eyemark Entertainment’s “The Psi Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal,” triggering a rare alliance among TV syndication, cable TV and Internet operations.

“This the first time that any Turner-owned network has ever purchased a TV series that included the rights to a Web site created for the series,” said Bob Levi, president of worldwide planning and acquisitions for the Turner Entertainment Group.

Levi declined to discuss prices, but sources said TNT will pony up about $7.5 million for “Psi Factor,” or about $85,000 for each of the 88 hourlong episodes. Reruns become available to TNT for five-a-week play in fall 2000.

Steady performer

“Psi Factor” is completing its fourth and final year as a weekly series in firstrun syndication, where it has plugged away as “a moderate but steady performer in the Nielsens,” said Bill Carroll, VP and director of programming for Katz Television.

For the first six weeks of the 1999-2000 season, “Psi Factor,” is averaging only a 1.4 Nielsen rating, putting it 21st among weekly dramas in firstrun and off-network syndication.

But the PsiFactor.com Web site has attracted enough fans of the TV series to embolden Eyemark to create on-air prize promotions tied to the Internet that have reinforced the loyalty of the show’s small audience base.

Levi said TNT will schedule “Psi Factor” in a weekday time period between 4 and 7 p.m., starting next September. If the show scores with cable viewers, TNT could commission more original episodes or a couple of two-hour “Psi Factor” pics. Levi added that host Dan Aykroyd, one of the show’s creators, has agreed to film new wraparounds for the TNT cablecasts.