The new comedy series Hi Honey, I'm Home has received harsh reviews. And its ratings are only so-so (it has fallen from 8th to 44th place in the weekly Nielsens).
So why is a show about a family of '50s sitcom relics one of the most groundbreaking of the season? Because it is the first collaboration between a network (ABC) and a cable programmer (Nickelodeon). Episodes appear on Nickelodeon two nights after they air on ABC. Both sides benefit from the partnership: ABC, by sharing telecast rights with a cable network, lowers its expenditure on the show, and Nickelodeon gains network exposure (as well as a free ad for Nick at Nite that runs on every ABC broadcast of the series).
As networks try to keep viewership from dropping further (since 1987, their share of the TV audience has fallen from 75 percent to 63 percent), such partnerships may become common. ''All of us are trying to produce better programming for less money,'' says David Kenin, a programming executive at the USA Network. This fall, USA will share a series with CBS an action show called Silk Stalkings. And in November, MTV's 10th-anniversary special will air on ABC. Says MTV creative director Judy McGrath, ''It's a great deal for us. Basically, it's an hour-long ad for MTV on network television.''