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'Dexter' on CBS? 'Burn Notice' on NBC?

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Dexter_l

Dexter_l

Since it’s a real possibility that the writers strike could extend far into the new year, the broadcast networks are seriously considering running repeats of hit shows from their sister cable networks in primetime. For CBS, that could mean a broadcast network berth for Dexter, the cult hit on its pay cabler Showtime about a forensics expert (Six Feet Under’s Michael C. Hall, pictured) who moonlights as criminal killer. And humble USA comers, like Burn Notice (a drama about a disavowed government spy) or Psych (a fake psychic teams with a cop), could get a second lease on life on sister NBC. The Peacock is already leaning on its cable sibling during the strike by airing repeats of Criminal Intent, which moved to USA this season. Says one network insider, “Big, big hits on cable get 3 to 5 million viewers whereas on networks it’s 10 to 15 million. You expose them to a whole new audience.”

Previously, repurposing has gone the other way, with network repeats of, say, ER and Law & Order going on to

flourish on cable. The idea of cable shows repeating on networks was

once considered verboten because of “ego and pride,” said the network

insider (the rare instances being when USA’s Monk aired a few years ago on ABC and Project Runway

ran on NBC to help the Bravo reality show gain exposure). Continues the

insider, “It was seen as a sign of failure even though it makes

business sense and the quality of cable series has improved immensely.

Ironically, we’re running into some of those same issues from the cable

folks who wonder if they’re diluting their brand by running shows on

the network as well.”

Obviously, the cable shows have to be a good fit on their sister nets. Though Dexter is no more violent than a typical episode of Criminal Minds, it could be difficult for the Eye to air repeats of Showtime’s Weeds

because there are those who say the drama about a suburban drug dealing

mom promotes marijuana use. “One other small business hurdle,” the

insider says. “Obviously, it’s easier when it’s produced by your

(in-house) studio and aired on your cable net.” What’s more, all the

cable shows would have to be vetted by standards & practices and

edited to fit, since they typically run longer than the standard

44-minute broadcast drama.

Previously, repurposing has gone the other way, with network repeats of, say, ER and Law & Order going on toflourish on cable. The idea of cable shows repeating on networks wasonce considered verboten because of “ego and pride,” said the networkinsider (the rare instances being when USA’s Monk aired a few years ago on ABC and Project Runwayran on NBC to help the Bravo reality show gain exposure). Continues theinsider, “It was seen as a sign of failure even though it makesbusiness sense and the quality of cable series has improved immensely.Ironically, we’re running into some of those same issues from the cablefolks who wonder if they’re diluting their brand by running shows onthe network as well.”

Obviously, the cable shows have to be a good fit on their sister nets. Though Dexter is no more violent than a typical episode of Criminal Minds, it could be difficult for the Eye to air repeats of Showtime’s Weedsbecause there are those who say the drama about a suburban drug dealingmom promotes marijuana use. “One other small business hurdle,” theinsider says. “Obviously, it’s easier when it’s produced by your(in-house) studio and aired on your cable net.” What’s more, all thecable shows would have to be vetted by standards & practices andedited to fit, since they typically run longer than the standard44-minute broadcast drama.

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