How hot is “Modern Family” as an off-net property?
So hot that Tribune Broadcasting made a pre-emptive bid Thursday for the show, which set off a flurry of wheeling and dealing that ended with 10 Fox O&Os paying top dollar to its sibling Twentieth TV distrib unit to land the show in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and other top markets.
Nobody was talking money on the record, but it’s understood that the 10 Fox stations have committed to cash license fees in the mid-six figures per week for the rights to the show beginning in 2013.
In New York and Los Angeles, the two top markets that determine the sliding scale pricing for the rest of the nation’s 200-plus markets, the show is believed to have commanded slightly higher fees than the blockbuster “Big Bang Theory” sale that Warner Bros. Domestic TV Distribution cut with the Fox O&Os in May.
In New York, “Family” was said to have nabbed a fee of about $120,000 per week; in Los Angeles, it went for about $100,000 a week, which encompasses two runs of the show per day and at least one weekend run. It also includes two minutes of barter time that the stations will give up to Twentieth for sale to national advertisers. That barter time promises to generate more millions for Fox’s units over the off-net life of the show.
The lengthy deal term covers 10 seasons of the 20th Century Fox TV-produced sitcom, now in its second season on ABC. That adds up to 11 years of off-network syndie runs on the stations.
Tribune’s preemptive strike came before Twentieth had even formally pitched the off-network “Family” package to Tribune and Fox Television Stations, the two station groups that rule the market for off-network sales.
Tribune gave Twentieth 24 hours to respond to its bid, which forced the distrib to seek an immediate offer from the Fox O&Os and then return to Tribune with a counteroffer. The wheeling and dealing was wrapped up by Friday night.
The “Family” station sale is an echo of the bidding scenario for the cable off-net rights in June, on the heels of the “Big Bang” sale, when USA Network made a pre-emptive offer to Twentieth. USA, which is shelling out an eye-popping $1.4 million per seg (just a little less than “Big Bang” commanded from TBS), will run the episodes concurrently with the Fox O&Os and other stations beginning fall 2013.
Now that the top markets are set, Twentieth will harvest still more coin by selling the show to stations in the rest of the country. The other markets where “Family” is spoken for on Fox O&Os are Dallas, Washington, D.C., Houston, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Orlando and Baltimore.
“As we approach the 2013 syndication premiere of ‘Modern Family’ on the Fox Television Stations, we are confident that viewer devotion to this hilarious and poignant portrayal of the modern American family will only continue to elevate and garner more success,” said Paul Franklin, Twentieth TV’s exec veep and general sales manager for broadcast.
“Modern Family” capped a strong first season with the Emmy win for best comedy series in August, as well as a supporting actor kudo to co-star Eric Stonestreet.
The show has enjoyed a big ratings bounce in its second season, averaging 12.6 million viewers. Steven Levitan and Christopher Lloyd are co-creators/exec producers.