TV network buys license to long-running sitcom

Spike TV has ponied up about $12 million to buy an exclusive five-year license to all 257 half-hours of “Married …With Children” from Sony Pictures TV, to begin airing in September.

The network also revealed some additional details about its previously reported purchase of updated repeats of “Unsolved Mysteries,” including the fact that there’ll be 175 re-edited hours of the series in the five-year exclusive contract and that the episodes will be available on Spike.com for streaming and downloading to mobile devices.

Spike also said Dennis Farina will be the new “Mysteries” host. The late Robert Stack hosted the series on NBC from 1988 to 1997, on CBS in 1998 and 1999, and on Lifetime in 2000 and 2001. The network declined to discuss dollar figures, but it will pay roughly $150,000 per episode to distributor HBO, putting the total cost at about $26 million. “Mysteries” becomes available to Spike in October.

In the deal for “Married,” the network will get the right to funnel the half-hour episodes to Spike.com. It also picks up 40 six-minute webisodes for the Internet and mobile outlets. The license fee comes to slightly less than $50,000 an episode.

In scheduling the two series, Spike has “Mysteries” logged in for weekday afternoons. The network will be a lot more flexible with “Married,” which will turn up in the morning, afternoon and latenight.

Spike is an active buyer of reruns of network series, having picked up exclusive cable rights to “CSI” and “CSI: NY.” Its other repeats include “The Shield,” “Star Trek: Deep Space 9″ and “Star Trek: the Next Generation.”

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