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TV Land Expands Original Idea

10/14/2005 8:00 PM Eastern

Encouraged by the performances of its recent original entries and their appeal to younger viewers, TV Land plans to add several fresh shows to its lineup of Gilligan’s Island and Good Times encores.

The network’s latest original show, TV Land Confidential, has performed above expectations, said network executives. The first three installments of the one-hour show, which takes a behind the scenes look at classic TV skeins through the eyes of original cast members, has averaged a 0.8 household rating, according to Nielsen Media Research.

“We’ve created this brand that people know to come to for great classic TV,” said the network’s president Larry Jones. “We knew it would take some time to get people open to the idea of watching original programming on the network, but it’s now catching on, and we’re really excited about TV Land Confidential.”

The program follows the TV Land’s Top 10 countdown, which bowed last May and averaged a 0.5 household rating for seven original episodes, on the net’s original-series slate.

Next up: the December launch of Sitdown Comedy With David Steinberg, an interview show featuring some of today’s top comedians. Jones hopes the show will attract viewers younger than the network’s median age of 52 years.

“We would love to introduce new audiences to the network,” he said.

The network will also re-team with TV Guide to produce a new special, TV Land And TV Guide Present: The 100 Most Unexpected Moments — an offshoot of the parties’ first collaboration, The 100 Most Memorable Moments On Television.

Jones said the network has several other original series in development, but declined to elaborate. Overall, he said, the network expects to launch a new original series every six to eight weeks.

Despite an expanding original-content slate, Jones said he’s not concerned about alienating the network’s core viewers who tune in to watch vintage sitcoms and dramas.

“I think its something that we clearly want to balance,” he said. “Our goal in creating original programming is to build the already strong bond we have with our viewer. If we do something like TV Land Confidential, we want to make sure it continues to talk more about their favorite shows, and will hopefully create a deeper bond with the base brand.”

The network may also look to offer more movie product in the near future. Jones said the summer “Movie of the Week” stunt, in which the network aired vintage telepics like Sybill, The Boy in the Plastic Bubble and The Day After, increased overall ratings in the weeknight 8 to 10 p.m. time period by 10%, compared with the same period in 2004.

“Most of the people that came to the network had not previously watched TV Land over the prior four weeks,” Jones said. “With the right selection of the appropriate movies, we could actually attract a new audience and expose them to our classics programming.”

TV Land averaged a 0.9 primetime rating in the third quarter, according to Nielsen.

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