MGM seals deals with major market stations

Having landed a fifth-season renewal on Comedy Central and spawned a 20th Century Fox theatrical movie for release later this month, “Reno 911″ is on such a roll that its syndicated reruns have just racked up latenight deals on TV stations in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

MGM Domestic TV Distribution has sold the 70 half-hour episodes of “Reno 911″ in two-year deals to WPIX New York, KCAL Los Angeles and WFLD Chicago for Monday-through-Friday runs.

WPIX and WFLD also have picked up reruns of the 30 episodes of MGM TV’s “Chappelle’s Show” for two half-hour plays on the weekend as part of the “Reno” deal. In Los Angeles, a second buyer, KTTV and its KCOP sibling, have bought “Chappelle’s Show,” although in most markets the station that takes “Reno” also will pick up “Chappelle.”

Fifteen more markets have signed for the two series, which become available in the fall.

MGM is selling the show at a brisk pace because it’s not asking for any cash and it’s giving stations an extra 30-second spot to sell locally.

The no-cash offering is not unusual. Stations seldom pony up for off-network series targeted to latenight because mass audiences are not watching TV at that hour.

But the additional 30-second spot — stations are getting four commercial minutes per episode instead of the usual 3½ — was a definite lure because 2008 is a presidential election year, when the demand for advertising time will be high.

MGM was willing to give up the added 30 seconds on the theory that the two shows will get better time periods (before rather than after midnight). Better time periods mean potentially higher ratings, which would allow MGM to pocket bigger bucks from Madison Avenue for its three commercial minutes.

MGM’s partner in distributing the two shows is New Line TV, which originally bought the rights but then decided to bow out of the syndication business.

Engineering the deals for the distributor are Jim Packer, MGM’s president of worldwide TV distribution, and John Bryan, executive VP of broadcast strategy.

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