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Viacom continues to rearrange its programming offerings.
A year after announcing a revival of Wife Swap for CMT, the new take on the unscripted series is moving to broad-focused Paramount Network. The updated incarnation of the former ABC social experiment will premiere Thursday, April 4 at 9 p.m. on the network formerly known as Spike TV.
This is the first programming acquisition for Paramount Network since Comedy Central president Kent Alterman added oversight of the cabler following Kevin Kay’s dismissal from the Viacom-owned general entertainment hub. Sources note Paramount Network remains committed to scripted despite the addition of a broad-skewing unscripted series like Wife Swap. The cabler’s scripted roster includes season two of Yellowstone, TV Land transplant Younger and Darren Star’s Emily in Paris, the latter of which is currently casting.
Alterman, who has yet to unveil his plans for Paramount Network, is said to want to augment that schedule with unscripted, sports and documentaries, which was the bulk of Spike TV’s slate.
Paramount Network is the highest of priorities for Viacom CEO Bob Bakish in his plans to reinvigorate the media behemoth. Since its rebranding in January 2018, Paramount Network has struggled to launch new series, with TV Land imports American Woman, Nobodies and Heathers all axed. Only Yellowstone — the first scripted series picked up and developed specifically for Paramount Network — has continued. Even First Wives Club, which was redeveloped for Paramount Network after being passed over at TV Land, was moved to Viacom sibling BET. (A premiere date for that remains a mystery.)
“Wife Swap is an iconic international hit that’s more relevant now than ever,” said Keith Cox, president of development at Paramount Network (and formerly of TV Land). “There are plenty of fireworks in each episode that audiences expect, but they’ll also be surprised as they watch these families learn about new lifestyles and choices to find resolution.”
CMT, meanwhile, is Viacom’s niche cable network. It exited the scripted space after Nashville wrapped its run a few years ago.
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