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BET Embraces ‘Scandal’ with Off-Network Pact for ABC Drama

Cabler to run new episodes of Kerry Washington hit eight days after network premiere

BET has picked up rerun rights to ABC’s political sudser “Scandal” in a deal that will give the cabler early access to new episodes from the show’s upcoming third season.

Starting this fall, BET will run “Scandal” segs eight days after they premiere on ABC. The cabler will have off-network rights to the Kerry Washington starrer’s first two seasons starting in fall 2014.

BET also plans a special marathon run of “Scandal’s” first two seasons in August to help promote the launch of the new season in the fall.

ABC’s deal with BET will pad the Mouse House’s bottom line on the drama produced by ABC Studios and exec produced by the Alphabet’s resident drama hitmaker Shonda Rhimes. “Scandal,” which revolves around a high-powered Washington PR maven who is having an affair with the President, blossomed into a bona fide hit for ABC during its second season.

ABC has already set a Netflix syndication deal for “Scandal,” which means the additional BET licensing coin will probably push the new episodes into profit (or at least break-even) from the outset of the season. That’s a welcome turnaround from just a few years ago when heavily serialized programs were out of favor with studios because they rarely brought in big syndication dollars from traditional off-network buyers.

ABC’s arrangement with BET is reminiscent of repurposing pacts that broadcast nets inked with cablers a few years ago, before digital platforms became players for off-network rights to hot primetime series. “Scandal” is a natural fit with the BET aud given the African-American cabler’s push to expand its profile with scripted programming.

“ ‘Scandal’ is a cultural phenomenon that has resonated with viewers for the past two seasons and we’re excited to be part of its continued journey,” said BET Networks chairman Debra Lee.

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