C-W inks flurry of syndie deals for hit sitcom

Carsey-Werner has inked deals over the last two weeks with stations in 17 of the top 20 markets to hustle “That ’70s Show” into off-net syndication.

Chris-Craft stations WWOR in New York and KCOP in Los Angeles have purchased off-net rights to the series for fall 2002 under cash/barter agreements.

WPWR Chicago has also nabbed rights for the retro sitcom.

The series has cleared 48% of the country, including Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, Detroit, Miami and Denver. Station groups picking up the series include Paramount, Hearst-Argyle and Capital Broadcasting.

The series is expected to earn more than $2 million per episode in cash license fees and another million in barter transactions. That would put it in the same league with C-W’s rerun powerhouse “3rd Rock From the Sun,” as well as Paramount’s “Frasier” repeats.

“We’re just thrilled that the show has been embraced by the marketplace as wonderfully as it has,” said Bob Raleigh, prexy of domestic television distribution at Carsey-Werner. “Forty percent of the country in the first two weeks is remarkable. Stations are extremely hungry for this show.”

Deals call for an exclusive broadcast window for the first three years and double runs of the show for the first two years.

“That ’70s Show” has set several records for a Fox comedy since joining the net’s primetime lineup in fall 1998, including the largest adult 18-49 audience ever in its Tuesday slot. The series received a two-year renewal from Fox in November.

“That 70’s Show” is one of four top-tier sitcoms likely to hit the off-net airwaves in 2002.

Already in full-throttle are sales for Warner Bros.’ “Will and Grace,” which wrapped a deal with the Tribune stations several weeks ago. Twentieth’s “Dharma and Greg” and Columbia TriStar’s “Just Shoot Me” are expected to launch their off-net sales in the coming months.

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