NBC plans ''Law & Order'' rerun blocs. The risky strategy has buoyed sagging ratings in the past
Dann Florek, Mariska Hargitay, ...
Credit: law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Studios USA

NBC’s ”Law & Order” franchise may be looking to expand its beat. Rival net execs say the Peacock is considering airing reruns of all three ”Law & amp; Order”s on Saturdays next season or in the fall of 2003. NBC execs would not comment, but the network already gave the idea a trial run Jan. 26, when some 9.1 million viewers tuned in to the back-to-back reruns — a 49 percent jump from NBC’s typical performance on Saturdays.

But NBC isn’t the first network to see reruns as an offensive, rather than defensive, move (repeats, after all, are typically subbed in for canceled shows): The WB has announced that it will add two hours of programming on Sundays next fall to double-pump its best shows. Explains WB president and COO Jed Petrick, ”If TiVo and ReplayTV are the ultimate consumer-friendly ways to program your own network, we think airing the same episode of a popular series at different times of the week is the best way we can provide the same service.”

But will all the broadcast nets eventually follow suit? One scheduling head thinks so, in spite of the strategy’s inherent flaw: ”Each time you set aside time for reruns, you take away a time period to create a potential hit.”

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