‘Fastlane’ burns rubber to MTV for 2nd run

Deal is first time music cabler has bought a b'cast show

Warner Bros. Television has gone outside of the family to repurpose its fall Fox entry “Fastlane,” sealing a deal to also air the show on Viacom’s MTV.

MTV will air the action series at 11 p.m. on both Sunday and Monday nights starting Oct. 13. Episodes will run at least eight days after their initial Wednesday night bow on Fox.

The “Fastlane” deal reps the first time MTV has acquired the immediate second run of a broadcast network series. The net has occasionally aired specials promoting broadcast skeins (including CBS’ “Survivor”) and MTV shows have occasionally shown up on the nets, including UPN’s brief run of “Celebrity Deathmatch,” but never the other way.

MTV picked up “Fastlane” at bargain rates — less than $50,000 an episode for the show’s initial 13 segs, with an option to extend if the show gets a full season order of 22.

In exchange, MTV will promote the Fox run of “Fastlane” through a 30-second on-air spot during the episode and give Warner Bros. a 30-second spot to use in any way it sees fit. MTV will also put a “Fastlane”-themed music video into the channel’s rotation.

“Fastlane” costs Warner Bros. around $2.1 million an episode; Fox pays a license fee of between $1.2 million and $1.5 million.

The show, from exec producers McG and John McNamara, debuted last week with an average of 10.1 million viewers and won its slot with adults 18-49.

No stranger to MTV

McG is no stranger to MTV, having directed videos for a number of core MTV artists, including Limp Bizkit.

“This is a highly stylized movie-quality series, crafted from a director who grew up in the MTV generation and who truly understands what appeals to a younger generation of television viewers,” said Paul DeBenedittis, senior VP of programming at MTV and MTV2.

Insiders said Warner Bros. approached sibling outlets Turner (among others) about repurposing “Fastlane,” but the cabler passed.

While the low license fee raised some eyebrows — particularly because Warner Bros. has been wary in the past of repurposing shows — the studio said it was looking for a strong promotional platform, not a large license fee.

Because advertisers have declined to pay broadcast-level cost per thousand rates (CPMs) on cable, even for repurposed broadcast shows, studios have dropped the price of secondary windows this season. Studios say they still find promotional value in the run, even if the reduced license fees don’t make much of an impact on a show’s deficit.

“This is a win-win-win opportunity for all the companies involved,” said Eric Frankel, president of Warner Bros. Domestic Cable Distribution.

“By having this series promoted on, and accessible to, the MTV audience, we can truly offer a targeted marketing campaign aggregating the desired young demo for the series and give it the best shot for long-term success,” he said.

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