‘Criminal’ to A&E, ION TV

Networks pick up CBS drama 'Minds'

A&E Network and ION TV have beefed up their off-net arsenals with the acquisition of CBS drama “Criminal Minds.”

A&E is said to have spent about $650,000 per seg for the cable strip rights to the ABC Studios/CBS Paramount Network TV-produced FBI procedural skein starting in the fall of 2009. ION TV is said to have forked over about $175,000 for the broadcast rerun rights to the show, now in its third season on the Eye, that stars Joe Mantegna and Thomas Gibson as FBI criminal profilers.

Combo of coin from A&E and ION brings ABC Studios/CBS Par’s take on “Criminal Minds” to a healthy level, given the general downturn in the off-net market in the past year. CBS Par is handling off-net distribution of the show.

A&E’s deal also allows the cabler to run segs from the first two seasons of “Criminal Minds,” when show was toplined by Mandy Patinkin, outside of primetime on a weekly basis as of next month. A&E deal also caps the cabler’s commitment to the show at eight seasons, should it persist in originals that long.

For A&E, the pickup of “Minds” is a no-brainer. Cabler has scored big Nielsens in past few years with its off-net investments in the PG-rated editions of “The Sopranos” and CBS’ “CSI: Miami.” Addition of “Minds” next year ensures that A&E will have plenty of promotional platforms for the original drama skeins it plans to launch later this year and early next, A&E exec veep and g.m. Bob DeBitetto said.

“Minds” has been a workhorse for CBS since its debut. This season, it’s averaging 12.7 million viewers and 3.4 rating/8 share in adults 18-49 demo in the Wednesday 9 p.m. berth.

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