and Forensic Files ,
the signature cable shows from USA Network and Court TV that flowed upstream to broadcast networks this summer, have racked up strong early performances.
But while the initial returns are very encouraging, the jury is still out on the long-term impact these experiments in reverse repurposing will have on the shows' cable viewership.
There is no question that both Court TV's Forensic Files,
which has been replayed on NBC, and USA's dramatic series Monk,
with a second window on ABC, have been summer successes for broadcast.
"The real story right now is the two shows have migrated, and they've both done extremely well on broadcast," said Universal Television Group senior vice president of research Rick Holzman. "It's still really early on to see how it's going to affect cable. That's the follow-up. But we're thrilled with the ratings Monk's
getting on ABC."
both of which have landed on broadcast's weekly top-20 list, are within a whisker of each other in terms of their ratings for the medium. Forensic Files
averaged a 5.5 household rating during its first two airings on NBC Sunday nights, on Aug. 25 and Sept. 1, according to Nielsen Media Research. For its part, Monk
has averaged a 5.4 in its four runs to date, from Aug. 13 to Sept. 3 on ABC.
put NBC in a "dead heat," a virtual tie, for No. 1 with CBS in the 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. time slot on those two Sundays, Court TV CEO Henry Schleiff said last week. And its
demographics have also been strong.
For example, on Sept. 1 Forensic Files
increased NBC's delivery of adults aged 18 to 49 by 69 percent over its lead-in, Dateline NBC,
to 2.2 million
viewers from 1.3 million, according to Schleiff.
Holzman said Monk's ratings on ABC had been building until this past Tuesday, when it encountered extremely stiff competition — the penultimate airing of Fox's summer cynosure American Idol,
Thus far, Monk's
Tuesday night replay on ABC has essentially had little impact on its ratings on USA, Holzman said. The offbeat detective show was averaging a 3.4 on USA before repurposing began on ABC, which has aired four episodes. Monk
has maintained that average through its first seven USA airings, Holzman said.
He said the real test, in terms of repurposing's impact on the USA play, will be seen on Sept. 13, when new episodes of Monk
resume their Friday-night run on the cable network. For the past several weeks, USA has pre-empted the show for coverage of the U.S. Open tennis tournament.
"That is why this is such a great promotional opportunity for us, because it's bringing new eyeballs to see the series at a time when it's not on USA," Holzman said. "Any new exposure to this high-quality series is good for it."
INITIAL COURT VIEWS
Schleiff is already crediting NBC's Forensic Files
plays with boosting the show's ratings on his network. When the show airs on NBC, it includes two 15-second promos for Court TV.
But it is still early on, and the data available so far only represents one week, a period when Court TV was doing a programming stunt.
During the week of Aug. 26, which Court TV dubbed "Forensics Week," Forensic Files
averaged a 1.0 rating, an 11 percent increase from the reality series' 0.9 average.
One episode of Forensic Files
that week tallied a 1.5 rating, or 1.1 million homes, making it the show's highest-rated episode ever.
"The culmination of these statistics directionally indicates that because of its improved performance on Court TV, more and more people are seeing it on NBC and seeing the Court TV spots," Schleiff said. "They're watching the show and then they're seeing a spot that says, 'Watch Forensic Files
every night on Court TV.' "
Court TV's repurposing deal was intended as a limited run that gave NBC rights to air Forensic Files
for four Sundays, with an option for another four plays it must exercise by Sept. 16. Schleiff said the arrangement won't extend beyond those parameters.
"Because for us, this has been fundamentally a marketing, strategic initiative, and it's been a very successful one," he said.
Cable operators have been wary about broadcast plays for what was once cable-exclusive content, which reverses the movement in which cable outlets have aired reruns of shows shortly after their broadcast premiere — like FX with Fox's 24.
But Schleiff claims that both MSOs and Court TV have been winners in the NBC repurposing deal, "because it's bringing more eyeballs to cable."
ABC does have the right to repurpose the remaining episodes of Monk,
but network officials aren't saying whether they will or not. USA has five new Monk
installments left to air.