News

Once On ABC, then Again on Lifetime

9/26/1999 8:00 PM Eastern

Lifetime Television, reaping the benefit of
"repurposing" guidelines that ABC Inc. reached with its affiliates this summer,
will rerun Once and Again episodes just three days after the new drama airs on ABC.

Once and Again -- which debuted on ABC last Tuesday at
10 p.m., to critical acclaim and high ratings -- was reaired by Lifetime last Friday at 11
p.m. That replay schedule will continue as part of an agreement that's been in the works
for several months, according to officials.

Referring to the deal as "an experiment,"
Lifetime executive vice president of entertainment Dawn Tarnofsky-Ostroff said, "It
says a lot about the synergistic efforts of Disney."

ABC is part of The Walt Disney Co., which owns one-half of
Lifetime. Once and Again -- which stars Sela Ward and Billy Campbell as divorcees
who find love together -- is a Bedford Falls Production in association with Touchstone
Television, another Disney unit.

Broadcast networks such as ABC are trying to offset
skyrocketing programming costs by finding new outlets to rerun or "repurpose"
their shows.

The Once and Again deal with Lifetime reflects that
trend, albeit with a shorter window than has been typical of such broadcast-to-cable
arrangements. For example, this season, USA Network will reair Law & Order: Special
Victims Unit
episodes two weeks after they debut on NBC.

Lifetime will pay ABC a license fee to rerun Once and
Again
, according to Tarnofsky-Ostroff. And the cable network will have the rights to
air the show's reruns in syndication.

In June, ABC reached a broad agreement with its TV-station
affiliates that set forth detailed guidelines for repurposing the broadcast network's
programming.

Under that pact, ABC is free to repurpose up to 25 percent
of its primetime entertainment programming with no restrictions -- which covers the Once
and Again
arrangement with Lifetime.

Once and Again producers Marshall Herskovitz and Edward
Zwick, of thirtysomething fame, said in a prepared statement that the television
landscape is evolving and this ABC-Lifetime deal gives them a chance to be part of that
change.

They and Tarnofsky-Ostroff believe that having Once and
Again
get a second play on Lifetime late Friday nights will expand its viewership,
without hurting its ratings on ABC on Tuesday nights.

"We believe there will be a different audience there
on Friday night than on Tuesday night," Tarnofsky-Ostroff said.

Not everyone agreed. Bill Carroll, director of programming
for Katz Television, which represents some ABC affiliates, described Once and Again as
"a key pivotal success for ABC this season." He added that episodes reairing
just three days later on Lifetime "has to impact the show on ABC."

Carroll also pointed out that Lifetime's Once and Again repeats
at 11 p.m. will compete against local newscasts on ABC stations. And he questioned the
timing of Lifetime's announcement about Once and Again, which came last Thursday
night -- just one day before the show began repeating on the cable network, catching ABC
affiliates off guard.

But Tarnofsky-Ostroff said the announcement was made so
late because the deal didn't close until 5 p.m. last Thursday.

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