"R" words were at the heart of programming news from a quartet of networks last week, as Sci Fi and ESPN signed renewal agreements, FX finalized its schedule for repurposed fare and The Weather Channel announced that it would reprise a popular stunt.
Sci Fi Channel locked up Farscape — its signature series — for at least two more seasons. Network president Bonnie Hammer last week announced a 44-episode commitment to Farscape, ensuring that Sci Fi's highest-rated skein will remain on the channel for a fourth and fifth season.
According to a Sci Fi spokeswoman, Farscape's fourth season will bow sometime in the middle of 2002. Farscape has four more original episodes left in its third season. This quartet of installments will hit the airwaves, beginning in January, as part of Sci Fi's "Friday Prime" franchise.
So far this season, the 18 premiere Farscape episodes have averaged a 1.3 household rating, according to Nielsen Media Research. That compares with the first season's 1.1 ratings average.
Elsewhere, ESPN renewed its exclusive five-year deal with the Atlantic 10 Conference to showcase its basketball games over a variety of TV properties.
The agreement, which starts with the 2001-02 season, extends through the 2005-06 campaign, and involves regular-season and postseason coverage of both men's and women's competition. Terms were not disclosed.
Each season, ESPN and ESPN2 will continue to televise a season-long schedule of Atlantic 10 men's games and one regular-season women's contest, plus the men's and women's conference tournament championships during its Championship Week coverage.
In addition, ESPN Regional Television retains syndication rights, conference action will be included in ESPN's Full Court pay-per-view package and ESPN Classic can tap the Atlantic 10 archives.
For its part, FX will have to wait five days before it can re-air the Fox broadcast network's 24. FX announced last week that it would repeat the show on Sundays at 11 p.m. (ET/PT) and Mondays at 10 p.m. New installments bow Tuesdays at 9 p.m. The skein debuts on Fox on Nov. 6, before being rebroadcast initially on FX on Nov. 11 and Nov. 12.
24 is a one-hour, CIA-based drama that unfolds in real time, with each installment representing an hour out of one day.
The Weather Channel will reprise its "StormWeek" programming stunt later this month. Weather will again explore the worlds of tornadoes, hurricanes and blizzards through one-hour specials at 9 p.m. (ET) on Oct. 15, 16 and 17, respectively.
The gambit concludes with the World's Worst Weather on Oct. 18.
During the stunt's premiere, from June 4 to June 7, TWC notched a 0.7 average, a network record for one-hour specials, according to Nielsen Media Research.
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