For USA, a new focus on laughs
Network orders its first two original comedies
May 17, 2013
USA Network spent a fortune on the syndication rights to the hit ABC comedy “Modern Family,” a reported $1.5 million per episode.
Now it’s planning to support that investment with a big push into comedy, a genre it’s never fully explored before.
At today’s upfront presentation to media buyers and planners, USA announced the pickup of its first two original half-hour comedies, as well as ordering another comedy pilot.
The two shows, which will launch in first quarter 2014, will complement the acquisition of “Family,” which debuts Sept. 24 at 8 p.m., and they mark a shift in strategy for USA, which is best known for its quirky dramas.
Though the network has finished No. 1 among total viewers for seven years, its viewership has declined as some of its top shows, such as “Burn Notice” and “Royal Pains,” age.
USA has long built around original hits, but after seeing the type of success TBS has had with off-network reruns of “The Big Bang Theory,” cable’s No. 1 comedy, it’s not hard to see what motivated USA to get into the repeat business.
The first new comedy is “Sirens,” from Denis Leary (“Rescue Me”) and Bob Fisher (“Wedding Crashers”). It follows a trio of EMTs in Chicago whose self-destructive personalities make the other parts of their lives difficult.
Leary won’t star but he did co-write the pilot.
“Playing House” focuses on two best friends who reunite as one of them is about to have a baby. It stars Jessica St. Clair (“Bridesmaids”) and Lennon Parham (“Accidentally On Purpose”), real-life BFFs who also co-wrote the pilot and executive produce the show.
The pilot order is for “Love is Dead,” about a company that will break things off with your significant other for you, for the right price.
USA will unveil other details of the schedule during today’s presentation, which is expected to include a new daytime show and several drama pilots in development.
USA averaged 2.98 million total viewers in primetime last year, according to Nielsen, off 9 percent from the previous year, and 1.09 million adults 18-49, down 13 percent.
It finished first on cable on both measures.
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