USA makes play for 'Modern Family'

Oxygen has grabbed the off-net cable run of “Glee,” while USA Network is getting into the comedy acquisition business, making a big play to secure the syndie rights to “Modern Family.”

Both shows will bow on cable in 2013.

As part of the “Glee” deal, Oxygen has also landed an unscripted series that will document the search for a cast member.

That show, which had originally been targeted this year for Fox, will now instead air on Oxygen in 2011. The winner will ultimately appear on season three of “Glee.” Oxygen is expected to produce the “Glee” reality show, with reality producers experienced in reality competitions likely to be hired.

Oxygen has also landed the rights to air two “Glee” marathons some time in 2011.

As for “Modern Family,” the Monday through Friday strip will either be paired with another acquisition or with original fare.

USA execs have made it known that the cabler, so far known for its character-driven dramas, would like to get into the half-hour business.

“Modern Family” reps the biggest comedy acquisition to date for USA, which until now had mostly aired comedy castoffs. Its daytime “USAM” franchise, for example, consisted mostly of laffers from sister Universal TV that had only lasted a season or two.

Blockbuster deals come as 20th Century Fox TV and sister distributor Twentieth Television decided that the timing was right to capitalize on both “Glee’s” and “Modern Family’s” momentum. Both shows were seen as two of the biggest breakout hits of the 2009-2010 TV season (the third, “NCIS: LA,” has already been sold off-net to USA) and are Emmy contenders.

Cable has been on an acquisition streak as of late as well — with that $2.3 million “NCIS: LA” deal coming quickly after launch last fall. News was first reported by Deadline.

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