“LA’s Finest,” a show that two years ago was passed on by NBC, only to be picked up by Spectrum’s video-on-demand service, has finally found a broadcast home in Fox. The network will air Season 1 of the Jessica Alba and Gabrielle Union crime series on Mondays this fall.
The move is an unusual one — a show that has already aired being placed in the primetime lineup at a major broadcaster — but perhaps of increasing necessity as the efforts to contain coronavirus continue to keep television productions on hold.
“Interestingly enough, we had raised it with Fox a while back, and at the time they were so focused on their original development, they didn’t express as much interest,” Sony Pictures Television Studios president Jeff Frost told Variety of “LA’s Finest,” produced by the independent studio.
Those ongoing conversations between Sony and Fox began to gain traction just weeks after the shelter-in-place orders hit Hollywood, however. By late March or early April, Sony would begin to have more in-depth conversations with at least two other networks.
“It was similar to Fox — networks that we had raised it to earlier started to express a stronger interest in the show,” he said.
Charter Communications-backed Spectrum offers a much looser grip on its original series than other networks or streaming services: The VOD service has a mere nine-month exclusivity window on “LA’s Finest,” allowing Sony to shop it around to other platforms.
Is another Sony-produced Spectrum series, the “Mad About You” revival, also in contention to pop up on a broadcast network or alternate platform?
“Absolutely,” said Frost. “There are all kinds of conversations ongoing in connection with that. Since it aired later, that window hasn’t opened up yet, but it’s definitely in the discussion stage.” He would not specify which networks the studio was in conversation with.
The ongoing production shutdown, now about two-months long, has thrown a wrench into the normal TV development and production cycle. That has made shows like “LA’s Finest” all the more appealing. While the series has technically already aired, Spectrum’s comparatively smaller audience means that there are plenty of Fox viewers who have likely not yet seen the show.
“There are a few shows that we’re talking to broadcasters, distributors, streamers about that would have been more difficult discussions six months ago, if they would’ve occurred at all,” said Frost. “There’s been this resurgence in what I’ll call ‘near original’ content, [shows] that may have had some exposure on some platform on a limited basis.”
Fox is not the only network to announce the pickup of an acquired series. The CW has unveiled plans to air four series that have previously been released on other platforms, including “Swamp Thing” from DC Universe and “Tell Me a Story” from CBS All Access.
Frost expects this trend to continue as the shelter-in-place orders remain in place.
“The longer that original content isn’t being produced on a larger scale — I think you’re going to see this quite a bit,” he said. “We’re definitely hearing it from the networks, and you’re also seeing it in terms of networks that had held on to programming for the midseason, now pushing those shows into the fall. There’s higher viewership in the fall, they don’t have original content to air in the fall, so this is the answer to that. As long as this continues, and production is shut down, I think you’ll continue to see this trend.”
That should lift all boats, Frost contends, as it will drive new viewership to the show’s new network, as well as the show’s original broadcaster. Season 2 of “LA’s Finest” will premiere on Spectrum in June.
“The networks were shying away from any kind of content that was on a different platform,” he said. “And this has caused them to start looking at it, and based on what we’ve seen in the past, I think you’ll see that this is actually beneficial to those networks, because it does drive new viewership to this platform and the older platform, so I think it’s good all the way around. It’s good for us and the content provider. But it’s also good for the networks as it’s driving different viewers to these networks than they might have seen in the past.”