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‘I Spy,’ ‘My Favorite Martian,’ Other Classic TV Shows Now Available to Rent Online

TV distributor Peter Rodgers Organization launches direct-to-consumer site with 17 series

Can decades-old TV shows make the leap to new business models?

Classic series including “I Spy” starring Bill Cosby, “My Favorite Martian” and “The Adventures of Black Beauty” are available to rent for 99 cents per episode from a new service launched by Peter Rodgers Organization, a distributor of TV and films.

The company this week launched PROClassicTV.com, a transactional streaming site offering every episode from 17 different series without any commercials. Shows on offer include “The Rifleman”, “Tarzan,” “Celebrity Bowling,” “The Cisco Kid,” “Hopalong Cassidy” and “Acapulco H.E.A.T.”

“They’re all shows that are recognizable brands,” said Steve Rodgers, CEO of the Peter Rodgers Organization. “The idea wasn’t to offer shows you haven’t see for 30 years.”

Many of the shows on PROClassicTV.com are available on Hulu’s subscription VOD service, and the company also has syndication deals with networks MeTV, Retro TV and NBC’s Cozi TV. But, according to Rodgers, no other platform has every single episode.

The company launched a direct-to-consumer business, after four decades in the syndication game, because Steve Rodgers believes it will be a more profitable venture than ad-supported digital distribution. On Hulu, for example, the company’s content gets 700,000 to 1 million views every 90 days on Hulu. With PROClassicTV.com, instead of getting a share of advertising revenue, the company will get a dollar per epsiode.

“Since this company really represents the copyright owners, or their estates or families… it’s our job to maximize the revenue for these properties,” he said.

Peter Rodgers Organization, which was founded in 1976 by Steve Rodgers’ father, worked with New York-based Zype to develop PROClassicTV.com from scratch. Zype is now working on an app for the service that will extend the service to Apple iOS, Roku and Amazon Fire TV devices, according to Rodgers.

To promote the launch of the website, the company plans a TV marketing campaign running on Retro TV, MeTV and Cozi. Down the road, PROClassicTV.com expects to offer bundled discount pricing for an entire season, and Rodgers said additional TV titles will be added to the site.

“We’ve seen a lot of changes in our business,” Rodgers said. “In the 90s was the big cable boom. And it looks like online is what’s really happening now.”

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