TNN ‘Mad’ for sketch skein reruns

Pact is nonexclusive, a dual window

NEW YORK — TNN has bought cable TV rights to the reruns of Warner Bros. Domestic’s “Mad TV,” starting this fall. But the deal is nonexclusive, so TNN could end up sharing the daily repeats of the latenight Saturday Fox network series with TV stations in every major market in the country.

This dual window would take to the next level a current trend in which a cable network buys the five-day-a-week rights to an off-network hour, and TV stations pick up two runs each weekend in a simultaneous window. Also, the Fox net has just renewed the series for another two seasons, so the fresh episodes will continue to run every Saturday night at 11.

In the case of “Mad,” the stations would be running the hours every day just like TNN. But while the stations are buying the series for placement between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m., TNN, which has time-period flexibility, could schedule it in primetime or early evening.

Insiders said TNN would have preferred to get “Mad TV” exclusively but agreed to the sharing when Warner Bros. lowered the license fee considerably. As many as 80 TV stations already have agreed to take “Mad TV” in rerun syndication. Stations won’t pay cash license fees but instead will give up seven minutes in each hour for Warner Bros. to sell to national advertisers. In its cable deal, TNN gives up no ad time to Warner Bros.

While declining to discuss the contract, Barbara Zaneri, senior VP of programming and acquisitions for TNN, said one of the big reasons the network bought “Mad TV” is that “our wrestling audience is very partial to sketch comedies, and 59% of the audience for ‘Mad TV’ is 18 to 49, which is unusually high.”

TNN’s highest-rated weekly series is the two-hour Monday-night “Raw Is War” slamfest from Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Federation. The network is planning to engineer considerable cross-promotion between wrestling and “Mad TV” come September.

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