Skeins home at SoapNet

Web picks up off-net rights to '90210,' 'Melrose' for 4 years

SoapNet will spend about $9 million to buy exclusive cable windows to Spelling Television/Paramount Domestic TV dramas “Beverly Hills, 90210” and “Melrose Place.”

Paramount and cabler execs declined to comment on license fees, but SoapNet general manager Deborah Blackwell said the web had picked up the off-net rights to both hourlongs for the next four years.

Deal includes the complete seven seasons of “Melrose” and the 10 seasons of “90210.” SoapNet will begin stripping “Melrose” Sept. 13 at 6 p.m.; “90210” begins its weekday run in early 2005.

Both skeins will get an additional simultaneous cycle on the cabler’s Saturday night Dysfunctional Family Block, currently home to “Dallas” and “Knot’s Landing.”

“Melrose” had been airing on E! Entertainment TV and sister web Style network since 1996, while “90210” had been acquired by FX in 1998.

The skeins did little to boost ratings on their respective networks, but Blackwell believes they will perform better on the 24-hour sudser station: “These are the two most requested shows from our fans, in terms of primetime soaps, so we knew that these were our next most important acquisitions,” exec said. “Our sense is that both series will do better on our air because our viewers are the people who are watching these kind of shows.”

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