TNT bought off-CBS rights to "Hawaii Five-0," which hasn''t even completed its first year. Early buying may be because there are fewer good dramas to go around -- and comedies are even scarcer.
Typically, cable networks and TV stations in the syndication market like around four years worth of episodes -- 100 or so -- in order to run them five times a week.
Of course, it isn't just cable networks. Broadcasters are getting more frugal with their original scripted shows -- offering "year-long" series with 21 original episodes, or 20 or 19 in some cases. And what does all that mean? More reruns. And if reruns don't do the trick, networks grab up cheaper reality TV shows. ABC just canceled two long-time scripted afternoon soaps for two magazine-type shows.
Future cable schedules will continue to have reruns as a staple -- even as original shows look to gain ground. And we are not only talking about reruns cable networks buy from broadcasters, but reruns of their own original shows.
Some would say that the time-shifting activity of DVRs -- playing a show out of its originally intended live first-run airing -- is a rerun philosophy or sorts. TNT's early purchase of "Hawaii Five-0" also takes on some significance: Rerun/repeat programming, while seemingly a cheap alternative to original shows, actually gives big value to a network or station. TNT paid a not-very-cheap $2 million an episode for the CBS series.
In the future, when perhaps all programming will be on a video-on-demand basis and less dependent on scheduling strategies, all programming will, in effect, be repeats -- repeated from when the very first homes watch it.