NBC’s ‘Days’ booked

Peacock expected to keep sudser through '04

SAN ANTONIO — Columbia TriStar and NBC will announce today that “Days of Our Lives” will be staying at the Peacock for many days to come, barring any last-minute snags.

While a deal had not been signed late Thursday, the studio and the web have hammered out most of the details of a five-year agreement that will keep the long-running soap on NBC until 2004, ending months of media reports speculating that “Days” might jump networks.

Insiders estimate NBC will pay a license fee of between $1.6 and $1.8 million per week — about $360,000 per hourlong epi-sode — for the right to broadcast the daily shenanigans that take place in the show’s fictional town of Salem. That’s an increase of approximately 50% from the roughly $1.2 million per week NBC has reportedly been paying.

While both sides always indicated a desire to keep “Days” on NBC, both ABC and CBS had expressed interest in stealing away the sudser, with the Alphabet web making the most serious play for the show.

ABC’s bid for “Days” may have been hampered, according to sources, by the web’s refusal to give Columbia TriStar a financial stake in All My Soaps, an all-suds cabler now being tested by ABC in several markets.

Still, ABC remained a wild card in the negotiations right up to the end of the renewal saga, and could reemerge as a player should there be some unexpected hitch before a deal is inked.

In addition to money, a major area of contention had been exclusivity. The Peacock and its affiliates have been upset over Columbia TriStar’s decision earlier this year to begin offering same-day repeats of “Days” to DirecTV satellite subscribers.

It’s unclear whether the studio will drop its DirecTV offer as part of the new agreement, though sources at the studio have said for months that the satellite repeats were not lucrative enough to stand in the way of a deal with NBC.

Any renewal deal for “Days” could spell bad news for NBC’s other veteran sudser, “Another World.” The Peacock has been actively developing a new soap, and many believe the new soap might replace the low-rated “World” sometime next year.

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