EXCLUSIVE: ABC Studios is making a concerted effort in the low-cost TV arena with the appointment of Tracy Underwood to run development of cable as well as lower-cost network programming for the studio. ABC Studios had been pondering a formal entrance into the low-cost TV space for a long time. According to industry speculation, one idea floated last spring included launching a dedicated unit referred to as Keystone. Instead, ABC Studios is starting off with one studio executive, Underwood, dedicated to developing lower-cost programming.

One by one, most major TV studios have expanded into cable/alternative development. ABC Studios has a history of producing for cable. It currently has the long-running Army Wives on Lifetime and two series originally developed for broadcast that have migrated to cable: Cougar Town on TBS and Devious Maids on Lifetime. Additionally, the studio has produced lower-cost original scripted series for summer, most recently the upcoming Mistresses.

Underwood has been at ABC Studios since 2010, serving as VP drama development. She comes from the feature world. Before joining ABC Studios, she was with Vendome Pictures, an independent feature film financier and production company where she brought in the first production, the Jake Gyllenhaal-starring Source Code. Prior to that, she ran Jason Blum’s production company during their three year deal at Paramount and worked with John Wells for 6 years on the feature side of his Warner Bros. based production company.