Eyemark Entertainment has inked a big-bucks deal with Tribune Broadcasting’s WPIX New York and KTLA Los Angeles for the off-network rights to the CBS sitcom “Everybody Loves Raymond” beginning in fall 2001.
Eyemark and Tribune execs would not comment on financial terms of the deal, but sources said “Raymond” commanded a healthy cash license fee in the neighborhood of $90,000 to $100,000 per week in both markets.
That works out to about $190,000 per seg, for a minimum of 100 segs, over the initial 4¼-year license term, although Eyemark execs would not confirm on the specific deal points.
Eyemark clearly struck while the iron was hot on “Raymond,” now in its third year on CBS. The ensemble sitcom has blossomed this season in spite of stiff competish in its Monday 9 p.m. timeslot from ABC’s “Monday Night Football” (in East Coast markets) and Fox’s “Ally McBeal.”
“This show has tremendous appeal with both men and women,” said Eyemark prexy Ed Wilson. “The show has really found its stride and more people are finding it every week, even against the toughest competition.”
Eyemark had planned to bring “Raymond” out into Monday-Friday syndication in fall 2000 (Daily Variety, Dec. 7), but the start date was pushed up to avoid the bottleneck of off-net sitcom launches in fall 1999 and 2000.
Also, the Tribune outlets preferred a 2001 bow because some of their existing off-net commitments will be winding down by then, namely their rights to “Seinfeld” reruns, which will shift to rival stations in both markets in early 2002.
Eyemark’s deal with WPIX and KTLA puts “Raymond” on par with the off-net coin garnered in Gotham and L.A. by such sitcoms as “The Drew Carey Show” and “3rd Rock From the Sun,” but below the mega-bucks threshold set by primetime hits like “Friends,” “King of the Hill,” “Seinfeld” and “Home Improvement.”
Eyemark is retaining 1-1/2 minutes of barter advertising time from stations in each run of the show, which will add at least another $1 million to Eyemark’s total national haul from “Raymond” over the initial license term.
What’s more, Eyemark is expected to carve out a basic cable window for “Raymond” reruns toward the end of its initial broadcast license term. Turner’s TBS is said to be particularly interested in the family-oriented sitcom.