USA Goes Toward the Light

USA confirmed it will carry the tagline “Characters Welcome” when it re-brands in June. The slug is meant to draw attention to the strong characters in several of its acquired and original programs, and to keep things “light” at the NBC Universal general entertainment network, which has anticipated the re-brand since last year’s NBC/Vivendi Universal Entertainment merger.

“We’ll have levity–it won’t be a dark and edgy channel,” said Sci Fi/USA President Bonnie Hammer last week. “A bit broader with lighter fare—inviting and relatable.”

Hammer said USA is putting the finishing touches on a development slate of original programming that fits the new brand. With originals including Monk and The 4400, and exclusive off-net rights to Law & Order: SVU, USA is consistently among the top-five most viewed cable networks.

USA hopes to coast to number one when it regains World Wrestling Entertainment’s Raw, which it acquired earlier this month for around $30 million. USA will get the program, along with the show’s advertising, after its five-year run ends on Spike in October.

The re-branding coincides with this summer’s return of Monk, The Dead Zone and The 4400. Among new shows in development are six-hour limited series Organized Medicine, based on real-life tales of organized crime in the profession, and police drama Before the Fact.

“We rely on originals to differentiate us from the Turners, the Lifetimes,” Hammer said. “We’ve already developed strong characters that give tone and direction that is different from what the other general networks produce. It lives and breathes with characters and flawed heroes.”