USA banks on reality, games to build ratings


Pasadena - After finishing a close second to Lifetime in second quarter ratings, USA Network is hoping two original
shows and a new focus on developing a late-night block
will propel the net back to the top spot.

Network executives unveiled two key fall shows, a new
Mark Burnett reality show and a game show from the
creators of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, to
television writers on Tuesday in Pasadena.

Burnett's Combat Missions, which will air for 15 weeks starting in September, pits former members of elite American military units against each other. Smush is an unconventional word game competition that will be
played all over a house in front of contestants

Smush may help USA lure back younger viewers that
strayed when they lost WWF wrestling to TNN. Herzog
stressed that USA is firmly oriented towards the 25-54
demographic, but would love to increase its younger
audience again.

It's all part of USA's effort to step up its original programming over the next nine months. "We haven't been so aggressive in terms of original programming, we've pulled a lot of stuff off the air," said USA Network President Doug Herzog. "To break a 2.0 [in quarterly ratings] takes a break-out show."
- Allison Romano