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USA network's original programming has turned into seven hours of highly entertaining television.
The evolution of the USA network has been an interesting one. Launched in 1971, the channel was, at first, a sports network. Then the programming segued into game shows and re-runs. In 2004, NBC officially took over the network. Prior to moving under the umbrella of NBC, USA added the one hour drama "Monk" to its line-up.
Then in 2007, NBC moved its procedural drama "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" to the channel. That same year, USA began developing and producing more one hour originals, and now has several series on the air.
"Burn Notice," the spy drama about a rogue government agent is now in its sixth season.
A female U.S. Marshal tracking down fugitives is the premise of "In Plain Sight," which features a strong female lead, as do the newest entries to the programming slate: "Covert Affairs" and "Fairly Legal." A new CIA agent is the focus of "Covert Affairs" and a legal mediator is the centerpiece of "Fairly Legal."
Another gem on the network is "Royal Pains," about a concierge doctor treating the rich and famous in the Hamptons.
Meanwhile, "White Collar" is about a criminal who agrees to help the FBI catch other "white collar" criminals while "Pysch" features an amateur sleuth who is hired by the police department to help solve crimes.
That's seven hours of original drama on the network. Well, drama is a strong word -- these shows could fall into the category of "dramedy," as all contain elements of both a serious nature with some comedic flair thrown in.
USA schedules these shows on a rotating basis so that it seems that there is always one show about to begin its season, one in the middle of its season, and one nearing the end of its season.
This is a very effective way to schedule these shows for a few reasons.
First, it's an excellent way to keep viewers' eyes on the network by having fresh episodes on the air at any time given time. Second, having the shows rotate allows for the network to promote an upcoming new season of one show within another that might be in the middle or nearing the end of its season.
This cyclical pattern is helpful, but the truth is that if the shows weren't doing well, they wouldn't be on the air.
USA has established a brand with its slogan "Characters Welcome" and seems to use this as a guide for programming its shows as well. All of the shows have a great premise that leads to action and ethical dilemmas, but it's the characters that make these shows worthwhile.
It's been a slow build for the USA network to create this brand and execute it successfully. Here's to hoping that USA continues on this trajectory, giving viewers many more hours of great character drama.