'Monk’ on the VOD Case

New York— Fans of Monk can watch the full fifth-season premiere episode of the quirky detective skein one week before it premieres on USA Network as part of a wide-ranging, multiplatform free video-on-demand deal reached between NBC Universal Cable and several cable operators.

As part of the agreement, Adelphia Communications Corp., Bresnan Communications, Charter Communications Inc., Cox Communications Inc., Insight Communications Co., Time Warner Cable and Verizon Communications Inc. will also release the debut episode of new scripted series Psych on June 30 — one week prior to both shows’ debuts on USA July 7, network president Bonnie Hammer told attendees at the network’s upfront advertising presentation here May 9.

“This is an extraordinary promotion we’ve implemented with USA where our affiliates and advertisers can leverage hit shows from cable’s No. 1 network to help drive their business,” NBC U Cable senior vice president of new media and chief financial officer Jean-Briac Perrette said in a statement. “In addition, affiliates can entice viewers and potential subscribers to their digital on-demand and broadband services.”

Past the Monk fifth-season premiere, NBC U’s free VOD offer to affiliates will make available exclusive three- to four-minute clips of the opening scenes from upcoming installments of the show, starring Tony Shalhoub in the title role, as well as ancillary content, including behind-the-scenes footage, Webisodes and cast interviews. Advertisers will have the opportunity to sponsor the offerings.

On the original-programming front, USA has a number of scripted series in development, including Underfunded, about the best agent in the little-known Canadian Secret Service; and In Plain Sight, which revolves around a female federal marshal in the witness-protection program who disguises herself as a glorified meter maid.

The network is also looking to boost awareness of its World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. franchise by developing movies featuring characters from the grappling group, Hammer said.

Projects in development include Hunting Rabbets, featuring as hard-luck brothers who operate a failing repossession business; Crush, featuring Able “Crush” Cross as a bodyguard hired by a wealthy CEO who fears for the life of his daughter; and The Last Tough Guy, which centers on a washed-up stuntman seeking to avenge the death of a friend.

In other news, WWE will distribute its WWE 24/7 subscription video on demand service to 10 million Comcast Corp. subscribers as part of a carriage deal reached last week between the two companies.

Comcast and WWE have not set a price for the package, which offers content from the sports-entertainment company’s vast library.

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.