“Six Feet Under” is coming back from the dead on Bravo.
In a deal worth more than $15 million, the NBC Universal-owned cable network has bought the exclusive cable rights to HBO’s mortuary drama — making it the second big drama from HBO to find an afterlife on basic cable.
Bravo will shell out $250,000 per episode for all five seasons of the show, or 63 one-hour episodes, which the network will be able to run exclusively over the next four years. HBO and Bravo executives declined to comment on license fees.
“Six Feet” will debut on Bravo this fall.
HBO is said to have had an initial asking price of $450,000 per episode for the show. But sources said the drama’s serialized nature and risque content was a turnoff to buyers. And while skein was a hit for HBO, it never reached the blockbuster status of “The Sopranos.” Mob drama broke syndie sales records last year when it sold to A&E for a staggering $2.5 million an hour.
Price is on par with the coin fetched by critically acclaimed but heavily serialized shows “24” and “Alias” when they sold to cable.
Frances Berwick, Bravo’s senior VP of programming and production, told Daily Variety the cabler caters to the same upscale crowd that watches HBO.
Created and exec produced by Alan Ball, “Six Feet” revolves around the personal lives of the Fisher family, who live in and run a funeral home in Los Angeles.
” ‘Six Feet Under’ feels like an absolute bull’s-eye for us. It’s an acclaimed, thought-provoking drama that should match up well with our programming,” Berwick said.
Bravo airs repeats of another highly acclaimed drama, “The West Wing,” including same-week repurposed episodes of the current season. In the past the cabler has aired “The Larry Sanders Show” and “Hill Street Blues.”
“It’s a show that’s won many awards and been heavily marketed. So we know there are millions of viewers who’ve heard about this show but didn’t get to see it on HBO,” Berwick added.
Bravo is in more than 80 million homes; HBO has roughly 28 million subscribers.
Bravo will air “Six Feet Under” once a week, but has not yet decided on a day or time period for the show. Unlike networks running repeats of “Law & Order” and “CSI,” which have hundreds of episodes banked, the 63 episodes available for “Six Feet” make it difficult to strip across the week.
It is likely Bravo will bow the one-hour at 10 p.m. because of content issues. Viacom’s Spike TV will debut “The Shield” at 10 p.m. because of its violent content. Berwick, however, said the sanitized-for-basic-cable version of “Six Feet” will be safe to air throughout primetime.
As is the case with “The Sopranos” and “Sex and the City,” HBO execs will work with Bravo to edit episodes to basic-cable standards. “Only the minimal amount of editing” will be done,” Berwick said.
“We want to leave the storylines intact as much as possible and keep the show true to its original form,” she said.
Bravo will allow episodes with running times that exceed one hour to run into the following timeslot.