U.K.’s BSkyB set to take ‘Glee’

Channel 4 withdraws from Fox negotiations

BSkyB, the cash-rich U.K. paybox, is poised to finalize a deal to poach high-profile Fox teen drama “Glee” from rival terrestrial web Channel 4.

A protracted bidding war between the two, in which BSkyB reportedly offered a hefty £500,000 ($811,000) per episode for “Glee,” forced C4 to end negotiations with Fox over the show.

In a statement C4 said, “By not renewing the ‘Glee’ deal, we are freeing up huge amounts of budget to invest in homegrown programming, British talent and, of course, continuing to discover and showcase what the U.S. has to offer.”

A spokesman for BSkyB, which last year outbid the BBC for “Mad Men,” would not comment on the pending deal. But it is an open secret that the paybox is prepared to pay top dollar for exclusive U.K. rights to “Glee,” a channel-defining show for C4’s youth-skewed sister station E4, which has aired the first two seasons since it bowed in 2009.

“Glee,” whose popularity was driven partly by social networking websites, is a key acquisition for the paybox, which is increasingly dominating the market for tried-and-tested U.S. shows in the U.K.

However, auds for “Glee” on paybox Sky are unlikely to be anywhere near as big as the 2 million or so viewers who watch it on free-to-air E4, where it is the web’s biggest hit. Last week, C4 announced that it had acquired the U.S. version of Scandinavian cop show, “The Killing.”

Both broadcasters’ buying teams will be at next week’s L.A. Screenings.