Lifetime takes ‘Wife Swap’ reruns

Licence term goes through 2012

Lifetime has bought the exclusive rerun rights to ABC’s hit reality series “Wife Swap” for a license fee that could rise to $30 million if the skein goes to six years.

Series, distributed by Disney-ABC Domestic TV, becomes available in October, with 80 hourlong episodes in the hopper from the first four seasons, which will cost Lifetime about $250,000 an hour. ABC plans to commission 20 more hours of “Wife Swap” next year, skedding it on Wednesdays beginning next month.

The premise of the series is that wives from different backgrounds exchange husbands and children (“but not bedrooms,” as ABC puts it) for two weeks. Each wife has to live by the other wife’s rules during that period.

Susanne Daniels, president of entertainment for Lifetime Networks, said “Wife Swap” fits into the network’s “core of fresh new reality programming.” Three reality series premiere early next month: “How to Look Good Naked,” “Matched in Manhattan” and “Top This Party.”

Lifetime has the right to play reruns of “Wife Swap” twice a day, and its license term covers four years through fall 2012.

“Wife Swap” served as a solid utility player for ABC, keeping it competitive in a crowded Monday timeslot. It fared especially well among young women.”Wife Swap” is an RDF USA production, created and co-exec produced by Stephen Lambert. Other exec producers are Stef Wagstaffe, Michael Davies, Mitchell Rosenbaum, Stephanie Schwam Adams and Mike Gamson.

(Rick Kissell in Los Angeles contributed to this report.)

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