The-N (channel 104 on Charter) had a pretty good thing going. With The CW and MTV largely abandoning young-adult dramas, The-N filled a void with "Degrassi: The Next Generation," "South of Nowhere," "Beyond the Break," "Instant Star" and "The Best Years." That was the lineup from a year ago, anyway.
Now, "The Best Years" - the only hour-long drama to air on the net, and it's best show - has been canceled, "Instant Star" is in limbo and no fresh dramas are being advertised. ("Beyond the Break" is rumored to return later this year, but The-N is notoriously secretive about its scheduling.) Rather than banking on its virtual monopoly as a teen/20-something hot spot, The-N has decided to dip into the tween game and siphon off some of the Disney and Nickelodeon crowd.
"Zoey 101," starring Jamie Lynn Spears, is among the tween sitcoms The-N has picked up in syndication. Prior to this year, the channel was a rare gathering place for young adult viewers.
When The-N became a 24-hour network in January (it previously split time with Noggin), it acquired syndication rights for TeeNick shows like Emma Roberts' "Unfabulous" and Jamie Lynn Spears' "Zoey 101." And if endless reruns of "Fresh Prince" and "Sabrina" weren't bad enough, they picked up "Saved By the Bell" and started hyping it with an "embrace the cheese" slogan, even though that cheese spoiled years ago.
The-N seems to have killed its own momentum as a source for original dramas and turned into a depository for old-school junk and tween sitcoms that already get plenty of airtime on Nick. It's sad but true: Even on an obscure cable channel, the bottom line trumps creativity.
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