WE tv Acquires 'Frasier,' 'Roseanne' and 'Will & Grace' (Exclusive)

Paramount Television/Courtesy Everett Collection

"Frasier" will bow Friday while the others will roll out over the next two years in the network’s strategic maneuver to build ratings.

WE tv will add reruns of classic sitcoms Frasier, Roseanne and Will & Grace to its primetime lineup.

The network, which is known for its large stable of wedding programming, has acquired the complete libraries of all three shows on a non-exclusive basis.

The roll-out begins Friday with Frasier. The Kelsey Grammer sitcom will air back-to-back episodes Fridays from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. on what the network is budding “Frasier Fridays.”

Rosanne will bow next year followed by Will & Grace in 2013.

Off-net reruns are a staple of many ad-supported cable networks. WE already programs reruns of Charmed. And these latest acquisitions are part of a continuing strategy to anchor proven performers with like-themed original series. Roseanne would seem to go hand-in-glove with the network’s Joan and Melissa Rivers reality shows.

“At the heart of each of these shows are the special relationships the characters share, a bond WE tv celebrates in its original series, from Joan & Melissa to the upcoming Braxton Family Values and Sinbad It’s Just Family,” said Elizabeth Dorée, senior vice president, programming, WE tv and Wedding Central. “The strategy of acquiring these shows was borne out of the success WE tv has achieved with Golden Girls. This new crop of series gives WE tv yet another opportunity to present viewers with strong female characters, set against the backdrop of humorous, real-life situations.”

WE has a modest ratings profile: The network averaged about 100,000 viewers among women 18-49 and 25-54 for the first quarter 2011, up double digits year-to-year.

Wedding programming is still the network’s most popular offering. My Fair Wedding pulls in about 200,000 per episode. The latest Rivers spinoff, Joan Knows Best, averaged 159,000 viewers among women 18-49 and 189,000 among women 25-54.