Stations ready for ‘Deal’

Networks sign on for syndicated version

TV stations in almost half the country have signed on for “Deal or No Deal,” the half-hour syndie version of NBC’s hourlong primetime series that premieres in September.

Distributor NBC Universal said it’s inked the NBC O&Os as well as TV stations owned by CBS, Scripps, Allbritton and Sinclair to one-year contracts.

NBC U is insisting on time periods between 4 and 8 p.m. Stations are paying cash license fees and handing over three 30-second spots to NBC Universal for sale to national advertisers.

Stations said NBC U is guaranteeing 32 weeks of original episodes (160 half-hours in all) for the 2008-09 season, with the possibility of 36 weeks, depending on the work schedule of the show’s Howie Mandel, who also hosts two primetime hours every week. NBC U declined to comment on the number of episodes it will produce. Instead of the $1 million prize ceiling in primetime, the top cash award in the half-hour will be $250,000. And the number of female models handling the briefcases will shrink from 22 in primetime to three in syndication. In the syndie version, people from the studio audience will tote the briefcases in exchange for the chance to become future contestants. There’ll be one contestant for each half-hour.

At least two more new syndicated gameshows are in the works for 2008-09, both offshoots of network-primetime games: “The Power of 10,” from Sony Pictures TV, and “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader,” from Twentieth TV.