TBS takes ‘Home’ after USA passes

WGN sale was fly in ointment

NEW YORK — The USA Network deal with Buena Vista TV for reruns of “Home Improvement” (Daily Variety, May 14) fell apart at the 11th hour and TBS has bought the series, beginning in June 2002.

Sources said one of the factors that killed the deal for USA was Buena Vista’s sale of the show to WGN Chicago, which in 2002 will transmit two runs of “Home Improvement” every day to 14,000 U.S. cable systems, which reach about 47 million cable homes.

“We know there’ll be some wear and tear on the series,” TBS president Bill Burke said. “But the show has performed extremely well in the Nielsens even though many TV stations are double-running the series right now.”

Burke declined to say how much TBS is paying for the 201 episodes of “Home,” except to say that TBS will not pony up as much as the $126 million in license fees and ad time that USA had been prepared to shell out.

TBS has agreed to set aside some commercial time for Buena Vista, but note as much as the two 30-second spots in each run of “Home” that USA had initially agreed to.

Buena Vista is negotiating deals with TV stations on renewals of “Home” for the second cycle, which will also begin in June 2002. If ABC chose to renew “Home” beyond the 1998-99 season, the stations and TBS wouldn’t get “Home” until April 2003.

TBS will get up to 15 runs of each “Home” episode, which means it could play the show twice a day, Monday through Friday, for the five-year life of the contract, according to sources.