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‘Restless’ nights

Sudser slides to SoapNet

SoapNet has inked a multiyear deal with Sony Pictures Television for same-day repurposing rights to CBS’ “The Young and the Restless,” daytime’s No. 1 sudser for the past 17 years.

It’s the cabler’s second major acquisition of a soap opera not produced by sister network ABC. SoapNet pacted with Sony to pick up repeats of “Days of Our Lives” more than two years ago (Daily Variety, Dec. 11, 2003).

SoapNet and Sony execs declined to discuss terms of the deal, but insiders estimate the value at mid-seven figures per year.

Same-day episodes of “Y&R” will launch April 24 and air at 7 p.m. Monday-Friday. “Days,” which had been running in that timeslot, will move to 11 p.m. Cabler also will run the previous week’s episodes of “Y&R” Saturday nights from 7 p.m. to midnight.

Multiyear deal also provides SoapNet access to historical episodes, which the cabler will use in specials and stunt programming.

“When I joined SoapNet in 2001, we were already in discussions with Sony about ‘The Young & the Restless,’ so this is a pretty huge day for the network,” said general manager Deborah Blackwell.

Deal was expedited in recent months because “what we’ve been able to do since our launch is prove that there is a whole new audience for the soap genre (apart from the daytime viewers),” she added. “That’s known and understood within this business.”

Sony prexy of distribution John Weiser noted the added benefit of “cross-promotional opportunities between SoapNet and CBS.”

SoapNet now has rights to daytime’s five top-rated soaps, including ABC serials “All My Children,” “One Life to Live” and “General Hospital.” Cabler is in almost 48 million homes.

“Y&R” airs weekdays on CBS. Bell Dramatic Serial Co. produces the show in association with Sony. William J. Bell and Lee Phillip Bell created the show, and John F. Smith is the co-exec producer.