'Pan Am' may fly again as canceled TV shows find new homes

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In the world of television, canceled doesn’t mean what it used to.

The four major U.S. networks last week unveiled 31 new shows for 2012-2013, meaning that many won’t be back. Some, like CBS’s A Gifted Man, failed to win viewers. Others, like ABC’s Desperate Housewives, ran their course.

A few, such as Pan Am, may live on, thanks to new outlets for original programming. Netflix and DirecTV offer studios a chance to keep shows going, said Tony Wible, an analyst with Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia.

“Digital can provide a way to recycle shows that have been canceled, because there’s a lot more pressure on those platforms to go toward original content,” Wible said. “Whether or not you invest in a new show or one that’s been canceled is a function of cost and data.”

Sony Pictures Television, producer of the canceled airline drama Pan Am that aired on ABC network, has held talks with distributors to keep the show going, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

Netflix has better data than anyone to determine whether a show may succeed online, Wible said. When the Los Gatos, Calif.-based company ordered a new season of Arrested Development in November, it knew how popular past seasons were with its 26 million streaming subscribers.

“One of the reasons we were so excited about coming to Netflix is that’s certainly where this show has grown, and that’s where our fans are,” Mitch Hurwitz, the show’s creator, said at a broadcasters’ convention last month in Las Vegas.

Netflix is talking with CBS about resurrecting the drama Jericho, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions.

Generally, the network is “always willing to talk with Netflix if they’re interested in one of our shows,” said Kelly Kahl, CBS’s chief scheduler.

Netflix also discussed with News Corp.’s Fox ordering more episodes of Terra Nova, though an agreement wasn’t reached, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions who also couldn’t discuss the matter publicly.

Cable networks have become another potential last stop for shows on the verge. Cougar Town, starring Courtney Cox, is moving to Time Warner Inc.’s TBS for the 2013 season from ABC. NBC’s Southland was canceled in 2009 before finding a home on Time Warner’s TNT, where it still airs.

DirecTV, the largest U.S. satellite-TV service, has extended the life of Damages, a legal drama starring Glenn Close that originally aired on News Corp.’s FX, by scheduling the program commercial-free on its Audience Network. It did the same with the football drama Friday Night Lights.


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