Netlet seals three-year deal

UPN recently landed more than just “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” from News Corp.: The netlet also quietly extended its affiliation pact with major-market Chris-Craft stations.

UPN execs confirm that they’ve sealed a new three-year deal that keeps the Smackdown net in markets where News Corp. will hold a duopoly, including New York and Los Angeles. News Corp. officials declined comment.

“This clearly puts to rest any questions about UPN’s long-term health,” said the weblet’s CEO, Dean Valentine. “It’s a pretty clear endorsement that we’re going to be around.”

In a trade magazine article published Monday, Viacom chief operating officer Mel Karmazin said the Chris-Craft affil extension was directly related to UPN’s $2.3 million-per-episode “Buffy” grab.

Other sources said the new affiliation deal came after UPN had already landed “Buffy.” Either way, Viacom wanted assurances that UPN would have a home beyond next season for its “Buffy”-fueled lineup; News Corp. obviously had reason to make sure “Buffy” maintained a stable residence.

Sources also suggested that News Corp., having lengthened Chris-Craft’s UPN affiliation, may not be in a rush to negotiate an ownership stake in UPN, contrary to popular speculation.

UPN had previously sealed a deal in January to keep the netlet on Chris-Craft stations — set to be acquired by News Corp. later this year — through at least the end of next season.

Like that deal, the revised Chris-Craft affiliation pact doesn’t include any station compensation.

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