NBC sends ‘Boomtown’ to TNT

Contract covers once-a-week play, only for summer

Seeking to get more people to watch its critically acclaimed but low-rated cop show “Boomtown,” NBC Enterprises has signed a deal with TNT to carry reruns of “Boomtown” episodes every Monday at 10 p.m. throughout the summer, starting May 26.

“I look on this deal as a win-win for everybody,” said TNT exec VP Steve Koonin. “TNT gets exclusive fresh programming during the summer. NBC gets an enormous consumer-marketing opportunity because TNT will be promoting ‘Boomtown’ all summer on our schedule, which includes such shows as ‘Law & Order,’ ‘ER’ and ‘NYPD Blue.’ ”

No obligations

“And we’re not obligated,” he added, “to carry ‘Boomtown’ on TNT till death do us part.” TNT’s contract covers only once-a-week play and only for the summer.

The parties wouldn’t discuss the license fee TNT is paying for “Boomtown,” but insiders say the price, at about $100,000 a run well below the $150,000 a run that some shows have fetched, is almost irrelevant. If more viewers discover the show on TNT, “Boomtown” will almost certainly increase its rating next fall on NBC when it premieres in its new slot Fridays at 10.

And then TNT would want to renew the weekly run for 2003-04 at a higher license fee. TNT might even begin discussions over the five-a-week rerun rights if “Boomtown” stays on NBC for four years or more.

Bypassing Bravo

NBC is not standing on ceremony, bypassing its wholly owned cable network Bravo, which averages only about 300,000 total viewers in primetime compared to the 2.3 million that TNT chalks up on average. NBC repeated another well-reviewed drama, “Kingpin,” on Bravo last year, but very few people watched it, even during a stunt marathon of all of the episodes.

“It’s all about sampling,” said Koonin.

If lots of people sample “Boomtown” on TNT and like it, a borderline show could become a hit.

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