“Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” — the anchor of ABC’s kid-skewing TGIF lineup — could be flying to another network next season.
Paramount-owned Viacom Prods. is locked in increasingly testy renewal negotiations with the Alphabet web, whose option for the series expires next month. As a result, there’s a very good chance “Sabrina” will end up on a new web — most likely, the WB.
Several months ago, ABC offered to renew the show for a fifth season at a per-episode license fee in the range of $1.3 million to $1.5 million. Net now pays just north of $1 million for each episode.
Viacom and Par execs, however, rejected ABC’s initial offer. After several more rounds of negotiations, ABC walked away from the talks, causing Viacom to shop around for a new home for its Melissa Joan Hart starrer.
The WB has expressed a strong willingness to do a deal on “Sabrina,” proposing a two-year, 44-seg commitment to the show. License fee would likely be around $675,000 per seg — much lower than what ABC now pays, but more than the Frog has ever shelled out for a half-hour laffer.
Viacom might be able to live with a lower license fee, however, because of the significant syndie revenue from the sale of the additional episodes.
The WB would also benefit: “Sabrina” is consistently the top-rated show among young teen femmes and a top 20 show with femmes 12-34 — one of the net’s core auds. Frog may also be able to snag a provision giving it an out for the sixth season of the show if it fails to meet certain demo rating targets.
Alphabet execs aren’t worried about the WB offer right now. They feel they have until mid-May, when upfronts begin, to match any offers from other nets.
Most industry insiders believe a deal will be done sooner than May, however.
At issue for ABC now is whether the net will continue with its kid-friendly TGIF sked next fall. Ratings for the lineup have been trending downward for years, with the last attempt to revive the night — “Making the Band” — already fading with viewers.
As a result, some Alphabet insiders want to move to more adult fare on the night. Another option would be to move “The Wonderful World of Disney” to Friday nights, though ABC execs have previously dismissed that notion.
Should either scenario play out, “Sabrina” could prove to be an odd witch out.
Of course, if ABC keeps TGIF, “Sabrina” would be crucial. But with the WB not likely to go beyond $700,000 per seg for the show, the Alphabet may be able to pick up the show at a bargain price.
ABC might even go along with a two-year renewal, though the demo targets being discussed at the WB would have to be changed since ABC reaches far more viewers.
Reps for ABC, WB and Viacom declined comment.