In another broadcast-cable "repurposing" arrangement, USA Network and the Fox broadcast network will share a weekly primetime series, a revival of In Search of, being done by the producers of The Blair Witch Project.
As part of its deal with Studios USA and Haxan Films for the show, Fox has agreed to let USA air In Search of in primetime. While there have been other recent deals where broadcast networks have shared windows for series with cable, those arrangements didn't permit the cable networks to rerun the shows in primetime.
USA Cable president Stephen Chao said he first met with Haxan, the Blair Witch producers, after he saw what turned out to be their blockbuster indie hit at the Sundance Film Festival last year. Haxan officials mentioned a number of projects, and In Search of was on the list.
The original In Search of tells stories about supernatural events by using dramatic recreations. Haxan secured the rights to In Search of, paving the way for the show's revival.
"They're certainly film-makers that we want to be in business with," Chao said. "And the model [for program repurposing] obviously exists."
Chao discussed the project with David Kissinger, president of USA Network's sister company, Studios USA, and the deal went forward. USA can air episodes of In Search of in primetime just eight days after they first appear on Fox.
By repurposing programming and offering it on several outlets, TV producers are better able to offset and recoup their costs to create shows because they can collect license fees from several sources.
USA is already time-shifting programming from a broadcaster, NBC. The cable network airs episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit at 11 p.m. Sundays, almost two weeks after they first debut on NBC.
And Lifetime Television airs episodes of ABC's Once and Again Fridays at 11 p.m., just a few days after they debut on the broadcast network.
"SVU certainly has a life of its own on USA," Chao said. "It does not appear to be cannibalizing NBC."
In Search of is expected to debut this fall. Chao declined to say exactly what day or slot in primetime the series will have on USA.