'Dead Zone' Gets Third-Year Order

The Dead Zone
lives: USA Network renewed the drama series for a third season, despite witnessing a significant ratings decline during the show's sophomore campaign.

USA has ordered a 13-episode third season, which will bow sometime next year, said executive vice president and general manager Michele Ganeless. Production is slated to begin this fall.

The supernatural series, based on the Stephen King novel and starring Anthony Michael Hall, averaged a 2.3 household rating for 19 episodes, down from its 3.1 freshman-season average, spanning 13 installments.

USA ran 12 episodes of Dead Zone
from January to March 2003 and aired the remaining seven episodes during July and August.

Ganeless said she was pleased with Dead Zone's performance despite the ratings erosion, noting that viewership remained consistent throughout the show's sophomore run.

The series delivered a 1.7 among adults 25 to 54 and a 1.4 among viewers aged 18 to 49 — slightly less than the first season's demo numbers, but satisfactory.

"We're really happy about its summer performance … [Dead Zone] performed incredibly well within the demo and its still one of the top-10 series on cable," Ganeless said.

One series showing no signs of a sophomore slump is Monk. The USA original, starring Emmy-nominated actor Tony Shalhoub as an obsessive-compulsive detective, averaged a 3.4 rating through eight episodes, slightly above its first season's 3.3 mark.

"Once it premiered last summer and we saw the following it had, I think that we felt pretty confident it would come back strong, and it did," Ganeless said. "It's the exception to the rule."

Despite its solid ratings run, Ganeless said there are no current plans for Monk
to again be repurposed on ABC, although the broadcaster holds that option.

The network also remains bullish on its freshman series Peacemakers, despite a major drop from its stellar 4.0 premiere on July 31. Through four installments, the series — showcasing Tom Berenger as an 1880s crime-solving sheriff — has averaged a 2.9 rating, Each week, though, has marked a decline, with the Aug. 20 episode hitting a ratings low of 2.3.

Undaunted, Ganeless said that when compared to the movies that occupied the time slot last year, Peacemakers
has increased USA's performance with households by 69% and with adults 25 to 54 by 45%.

"It opened bigger than we anticipated — we thought this show was a solid mid-2 rating for us and that is where it's ending up," she said. "Creatively, one of our goals was to create shows that you can't find elsewhere on the dial. We've accomplished that with Peacemakers."

With the scheduled March premiere of the Hughes Brothers-produced series Touching Evil, USA will feature at least four scripted series in 2004 — a feat Ganeless said separates it from other general-entertainment competitors.

"Our goal for 2004 is to have four weekly scripted series on the air," Ganeless said. "We're in the early stages of a long-term plan to build the network's brand on original programming."

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.