WB aims for ‘Fresh’ syndie

Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution has quietly rolled out the off-net sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” in Los Angeles, with the distrib eying a fall 1994 syndie premiere for the series now in its third season on NBC.

The distrib, which will have stockpiled 96 episodes by the end of next season , is seeking $ 115,000 per episode from indies in the market over a 3 1/2-year license term (which will be extended by six months for each additional season), according to sources.

In addition to the cash, WB hopes to carve out a minute of barter time for “Prince” in the first two years of the deal. During the barter phase, stations will be asked to air the comedy six days a week between 5 and 8 p.m., with the two national commercial spots to run in each show.

Under the WB marketing plan, stations would get 10 runs of each episode of the series, which is produced by the Stuffed Dog Co. and Quincy Jones Entertainment in association with NBC Prods.

The syndicator, which declined to comment on its “Prince” marketing plan, appears to be taking a somewhat more cautious approach with “Prince” than with its fall ’93 entry “Family Matters,” which it initially put out for cash bidding in the major markets. Disappointed by the offers it received in New York and L.A., WB switched gears and developed an all-barter plan for “Matters.”

Still, the soft economy has created some doubts about whether L.A. indies would pony up more than six figures per episode for “Prince,” or whether they would be willing to air the sixth weekend run between 5 and 8 p.m.

Such matters will likely be decided by the level of interest in the market, sources said.

WB’s sales presentation reportedly stresses the strong performance of “Prince ,” which stars Will Smith as a teenager from a tough West Philadelphia neighborhood sent to live with his wealthy relatives in Bel-Air, with the 12-34 and 18-49 demo groups.

The series this season leads its time period among young adults, teens and kids, ranks No. 2 in teens and persons 12-24 (it led in teens last season) and is tied for 19th place in households with a 14.7 rating/23 share.

“Prince,” however, will be competing in a crowded field of sitcoms appealing to the younger demos.

Series expected to debut in syndication in the 1994 (or perhaps ’95) include Buena Vista Television’s “Dinosaurs” and “Blossom” as well as Twentieth TV’s “The Simpsons”–all of which are considered 5-7 p.m. shows.

Additionally, WB’s “Matters” will be in early fringe and the distrib’s “Full House” may likely be running in the 5-6 p.m. hour by then along with “The Cosby Show” and “A Different World.”

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