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Did cable save LAW AND ORDER??? (1 Viewer)

David Coleman

Supporting Actor
Jan 5, 2000
Have read a lot of articles about the show passing the 300 episode milestone recently. I know that I didn't start to watch the show until midway through it's 3rd season. When I had cable I would then start to watch the repeats on A&E and that's where I got hooked! I've read where Dick Wolf had said that they had signed the worst syndication deal in the history of television. In my mind I think that reruns on cable while the show was still active is what saved the show! I know it got me hooked!!!

Anyone with any thoughts on this??



Senior HTF Member
Dec 15, 2001
Real Name
I read an article about their milestone recently as well, and it mentioned how it didn't start to really gain steam on NBC until it hit cable. How was the syndication deal so bad? In terms of money?

Jason Seaver

Senior HTF Member
Jun 30, 1997
I don't know that cable "saved" Law & Order inasmuch as it gave a moderately successful show a boost. A lot of things went right to make L&O the juggernaut it became - A&E used it as schedule filler when there were only something like 30-40 stations on the average cable system (and A&E was one of them), it is perhaps the most self-contained hour on television - which both made it easier for A&E or NBC to stick into any empty slot and meant that anyone catching it outside the slot could jump right into new episodes, George Dzundza left after the first season, meaning Wolf & company were able to get the audience used to cast turnover early.

I've read where Dick Wolf had said that they had signed the worst syndication deal in the history of television.
Well, I doubt he thinks that now (especially since the TNT money is likely more per episode than the A&E money), but at the time, it had to be somewhat disappointing - L&O was a solid prime-time performer, but they couldn't even get reruns onto broadcast television, and the A&E deal was a flat fee, as opposed to per-airing. Considering that Wolf had created Law & Order specifically to be sold to broadcast syndication - the idea being that because half-hours sold better than hours, each episode of L&O could be split in half, and they'd have 88 half-hours to sell after only two years - it had to be disappointing.

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