USA Strategic Opportunities - July 2009

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It's especially challenging to break into the schedule for USA.  USA is all about off-net crime procedurals, NCIS, HOUSE, movies, WWE wrestling, and hit original series such as BURN NOTICE, MONK, PSYCH, and IN PLAIN SIGHT. They have more original dramas on the air than any other cable network.

USA continues to lead the pack in blurring the lines between cable and broadcast. They consistently try to position themselves against the broadcast nets, and in 2008/09 they met their goal of becoming the first cable network to harvest more primetime viewers, on average, than a broadcast network. They continue to narrow the broadcast/cable gap, even during sweeps periods.

But there is always room for improvement. The network has balanced its strong female skew since last year. Top-rated MONK is near the end of its cycle, opening a hole on the scripted originals bench. And the audience continues to age. Younger-skewing programming would go a long way towards refreshing the network.

What network President Bonnie Hammer looks for in original series is upbeat, blue-skies action thrillers and procedurals. "We don't rule out a bit of edginess, but you won't see anything that's dark or bleak." They tend to go for strong, quirky characters and stories, rarely non-fiction.


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