NBC U, MSOs Reach Free-VOD Deal

New York -- Fans of USA Network’s Monk can watch episode previews of the dramedy skein one week before the shows premiere on the network as part of a wide-ranging, multiplatform free-video-on-demand deal reached between NBC Universal Cable and several MSOs, the network announced Tuesday at its upfront presentation here.

As part of the agreement, Adelphia Communications Corp., Bresnan Communications, Charter Communications Inc., Cox Communications Inc., Insight Communications Co. Inc., Time Warner Cable and Verizon Communications Inc. will also air Monk’s fifth-season premiere episode, as well as the debut episode of new scripted series Psych, June 30 -- one week prior to both shows’ July 7 USA Network premieres, according to USA president Bonnie Hammer.

"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 prepared statement. "In addition, affiliates can entice viewers and potential subscribers to their digital on-demand and broadband services."

Along with the exclusive three- to four-minute clips of the opening scenes from upcoming episodes of Monk, NBC U will make available to affiliates as part of the FVOD offer Monk-themed ancillary content, including behind-the-scenes footage, Webisodes and cast interviews. USA will also offer advertisers the opportunity to sponsor the new-media offerings.

On the original-programming front, the network will look to boost awareness of its World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. franchise by developing movies featuring WWE characters, Hammer said.

Projects in development include Hunting Rabbets, featuring wrestlers Jack and Bobby Rabbet as hard-luck brothers who operate a failing repossession business; Crush, featuring grappler 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 portrays a washed-up stuntman seeking to avenge the death of a friend.

Among the new scripted series in development are Underfunded, a one-hour pilot 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 to her friends and family as a glorified meter maid.

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.