Sinclair Broadcast Group’s collection of over-the-air multicast networks — Comet, Charge! and TBD — has acquired new programming to take advantage of their beefed-up distribution and viewership gains ahead of the upfront advertising market.
TBD will be adding The Laugh List, an exclusive original series from Vin Di Bona Productions, creator of America’s Funniest Home Videos, in the fall
Charge! will add Law & Order: Criminal Intent to its lineup of procedural dramas in October.
And Grimm will join the sci-fi and fantasy-filled lineup at Comet. That network will be holding its first virtual Comet Fest June 16-18, saluting Star Trek. Comet Fest will lead into the launch of Grimm in June.
All three networks are scheduled to launch on YouTube TV on June 1.
“The networks are on a roll as viewers continue to leave cable TV networks in search of new entertainment options such as free over-the-air multicast networks and streaming,” said Adam Ware, senior VP of Sinclair’s growth networks group.
At a time when some digital broadcast networks are seeing decline, the Sinclair networks — marketed as The Stack — are up 21% among viewers 25-54 in primetime this year through April. That should appeal to ad buyers looking for ways to replace the reach of cable with familiar programming.
Ware told Broadcasting+Cable that TBD, originally designed to show short bits of social-media type programming, has moved up to longer-form funny unscripted series including Wipeout, Fear Factor and World’s Dumbest.
In February, TBD ordered a test of an original series from Vin DiBona Productions. Sinclair tested the show in several markets to see how it would perform and then ordered 50 half-hour episodes of The Laugh List.
“It looks like America’s Funniest Home Videos without an audience,” Ware said. “They have a formula and it really works. They celery know how to produce this kind of content.”
Comet has found a fandom niche with a primetime block featuring Buffy the Vampire Slayer and X-Files. “If Buffy and X-Files had a baby, it would be Grimm,” Ware said. Grimm was a Friday-night hit for NBC, running from 2011 to 2017 and peaking with 8 million viewers.
Grimm will be introduced to Comet with Comet Fest, which in its inaugural year will celebrate Star Trek from June 16 to 18. Comet will air the first four Star Trek films — Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home — and The Captain’s Closeup, a series featuring William Shatner interviewing Sir Patrick Stewart, Avery Brooks, Kate Mulgrew and Scott Bakula. All of that will lead into a preview of Grimm on June 18, a Sunday night. The series will debut in its primetime timeslot on June 19.
Comet Fest will also feature a cosplay contest and giveaways.
Grimm will also run in the afternoons, and possibly in late night. “We’re really high on it,“ Ware said. “I think Buffy, X-Files and Grimm are a really powerful package and I think fans will dig it.”
Charge! has established itself with procedurals with CSI: New York and CSI: Miami in prime time, Ware said. Law & Order: Criminal Intent should be a good fit on Charge! “It’s a very distinct show,“ Ware said. “I just like Vincent D’Onofrio. I think that positions us quite nicely against other networks that are declining with series that are appealing to a similar audience.”
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Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.