The ION network has acquired first-run rights to films in the basic cable and broadcast windows for the first time, inking a deal with Starz Media. The six films will be used as part of its "Big Movie Weekend" starting in November.
The movie rollout will continue through 2013.
Titles from Starz' Anchor Bay Films and Overture Films include "Traitor" with Don Cheadle; "City Island" with Andy Garcia; and "The Visitor" with Richard Jenkins.
ION could also be tabbed "CBS Classic" or "CBS II," as it airs buckets of episodes of former network shows "Without a Trace" and "Ghost Whisperer" in order, along with current hit "Criminal Minds." "M*A*S*H" is also part of its portfolio.
By one measure, ION's prime-time viewership has been on the upswing this season, with total viewers rising 17% to an average of 1.2 million. In the 18-to-49 demo, average viewership is up 12.5% to 450,000.
In regard to the Starz deal, ION CEO Brandon Burgess stated that it is a signal that ION "provides an outlet for independent content creators." Anchor Bay and Overture can be considered independent-type studios.
Alecia Dixon-Kurschner, Starz Media vice president in syndication sales, stated: "The negotiations were a collaborative and creative experience that resulted in a mutually beneficial agreement that we look forward to continuing and building upon in the future."
Through its owned station group, ION reaches nearly every U.S. TV home.