From Mediasharx.comScifi TV: Déjà vu All Over Again (buffy & angel mention)
By Scott Nance
Monday 19 July 2004, by Webmaster
"The broadcast networks have basically all said scifi is of no value whatsoever..." Forget what you’ve been told. Forget what I’ve told you. There is plenty of scifi out there on TV. It’s just that it’s all reruns.
By canceling so many promising series like FIREFLY, ANGEL, and even CBS’ short-lived futuristic lawyer show CENTURY CITY, the broadcast networks have basically all said scifi is of no value whatsoever. They’re saying scifi series no longer hold the audiences they’re looking for, and—even worse—we scifi fans aren’t even worth attracting.
The cable networks, on the other hand, know better.
They’ve been snapping up rerun rights to scifi series all over the place. Not only that, the cable nets turn around and make these acquisitions centerpieces of their lineups — like BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER on FX, ANGEL on TNT, and an ever-growing number of STAR TREK series on Spike TV.
Granted, in buying reruns of existing series, cablers avoid the risks the broadcasters face everyday in sinking big bucks in actually producing new series which may or may not succeed.
But in some notable cases, cable nets have shown a willingness to spend mucho dinero to get their hands on scifi. Competition for the cable rights to BUFFY, for instance, was reportedly fierce. USA Network, TNT, MTV, and Lifetime all were said to be interested in the airing old episodes of the Slayer’s exploits. FX ultimately emerged the winner only after reportedly coughing up an extraordinary $650,000 per episode — or $65 million in all.
Willingness to spend that kind of money shows just how seriously the cable nets take scifi. Interest in BUFFY was so intense precisely because the networks understood just how successfully the show could deliver the young adult demographics TV networks crave.
"A funny thing happens....these shows attract entirely new fans who may have had just a passing exposure to them..." Having spent so lavishly for it, FX turned around and gave the series prime exposure. FX practically became the “BUFFY network,” running episodes as often as three or four times a day.
Although TNT bought rerun rights to ANGEL for a much more modest $250,000 per episode, the network gave the series a prominent perch on its lineup at 5 p.m. ET, sandwiched between the classy JUDGING AMY and the less-classy CHARMED.
And then there’s Spike TV’s fascination with all things TREK. The network has completed its transformation from country-music-based The Nashville Network, to the more amorphous The National Network, and finally to Spike, the “only network for men.”
Spike had gotten into the TREK business by buying rerun rights to STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION back in its days as The National Network. What’s more interesting, however, is that as the cabler decided to cater to a specifically young, male audience, it deepened its connection to TREK.
Spike TV recently debuted reruns of DEEP SPACE NINE, and has also bought rights to air repeats of STAR TREK: VOYAGER starting in 2006.
Clearly, having decided to pursue the male demographic so specifically, Spike TV execs had a lot was riding on which specific programming they purchased. They had to buy the programming that they felt would most appeal to young men. With so much at stake for the re-launch of their network aiming at men, it’s significant that they felt one of the best ways to attract those male viewers would be by acquiring so many incarnations of the TREK universe.
"The show doesn’t have to be new if it’s new to you..." Once these old series have new life in reruns on cable, a funny thing happens. It’s not just the hard-core fans from the series’ past who come watch. These shows attract entirely new fans who may have had just a passing exposure to them—if even that—in their days on first-run TV.
That’s true of DEEP SPACE NINE, according to Chase Masterson, the actress who played Leeta on the series, which finished its first-run years in 1999.
“ ... From everything I’ve heard, the resurgence of DS9 on DVD and on Spike is bringing a new audience to the show, ironically, years after we closed,” she said in a recent interview. “After 7 years, it’s great to see such a worthy piece finding the audience that it deserves.”
It’s been the case for BUFFY, as well. Just ask university worker Lena Davis, who only recently discovered BUFFY:
“My friends had mentioned BUFFY in the past, but I hadn’t watched it. I didn’t like TV and only watched one show religiously, BABYLON 5, for its magnificent story,” Davis explains in the “Discovering Buffy” section of Slayage.tv. “Now, with all this time on my hands, I decided to watch the rebroadcast episodes on FX, starting with the very first episode. I immediately connected with Giles, the father figure of the group. And I fell in love with the characters, and the story, and the hipness and reality of the entire endeavor.”
Rick Goodman, a 32-year-old organic chemist, is another fan who credits the heavy rotation BUFFY found itself in on FX.
Goodman told Slayage.tv he only started watching BUFFY at the start of Season Six.
“Fortunately, at that same time FX was showing Seasons 1-5, in order, twice daily, and I was able to catch up very, very quickly,” he said, adding that “reading the other letters submitted here, it seems a LOT of us late fans owe thanks to FX for doing that!!”
If you’ve ever kicked yourself for letting a good scifi series pass you by, don’t fret. It’s probably out there on cable.
Full article here : http://www.mediasharx.com/index.php/news/2664
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