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Science cabler nabs ‘Fringe’ reruns

Amazon also said to be a contender for SVOD rights to WBTV drama

Fox series “Fringe” has been sold into syndication to an unlikely buyer: Discovery-owned cabler Science. And a second, even more unusual buyer may be coming to the party.

Discovery confirmed that the off-network deal was completed Wednesday. Pact is non-exclusive, which will allow Warner Bros.’ syndie arm to bring in a second buyer in the subscription VOD window.

That’s a category where Netflix and Hulu Plus have emerged as eager buyers, but they may be upstaged in this instance by Amazon, which sources say has been aggressively courting the property in a bid to finally break into the off-net marketplace where they’ve been quiet to date.

Last month, Fox ordered a final fifth season of 13 episodes of the sci-fi hour from WBTV, which agreed to trim its license fee on the show because it was looking to pack as many episodes as possible into the sale. (The fifth season will bring the show’s episode tally to 100.) “Fringe’s” audience is small enough to make it a question mark for renewal in recent years, but it has been helped by a fervent fan base that is vocal across social media.

With its serialized storylines, “Fringe” isn’t expected to fetch the kind of coin that higher-rated procedurals like “Hawaii Five-0” have garnered. While that CBS series drew over $2 million per episode from TNT last year, “Fringe” likely commanded a more modest fee in the low six figures from Science. The studio will make up some ground with its SVOD sale, where serialized shows with hard-core fans are prized.

“Fringe” is also a perfect fit with the audience profile of Science, whose programming delves into many of the same fringe-science themes that the show invokes. “Fringe” star John Noble also moonlights as host of Science of its original unscripted series, “Dark Matters.”

While Discovery is known best for non-fiction programming created in-house, Science has padded its own lineup with low-end syndie fare from the sci-fi realm. Last year the network bought “Firefly,” another cult favorite that had a brief run on Fox, from 20th Century Fox TV.

The cabler was happy enough with the ratings performance of “Firefly” to try its luck again with scripted off-net material.

“Fringe” was co-created by J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci for Abrams’ Bad Robot banner. Kurtzman, Orci, Abrams, J.H. Wyman, Jeff Pinkner and Bryan Burk are exec producers.

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