In one of its biggest movie-acquisition deals in the last few years, USA Network has bought a package of more than 30 titles from Universal Pictures. Nine of them include network premiere rights, including Judd Apatow’s sleeper comedy hit Bridesmaids; the Fast & the Furious sequel Fast Five; the latest installment in the Meet the Parents franchise, Little Fockers; as well as the Matt Damon starrer The Adjustment Bureau. All four will debut on USA. There was some corporate synergy at work in making the deal, with virtually all other NBCUniversal TV networks contributing financially, including NBC, Syfy, E!, Bravo, Oxygen, Style, G4, Chiller, Sleuth and UniHD. In exchange, those nets get rights to some of the titles in the package. For instance, NBC has committed to airing Bridesmaids and The Little Fockers after their premiere on USA and has an option to pick up more. Syfy will debut two of the nine movies, to which USA is getting network premiere rights: Repo Man and Wes Craven’s My Soul to Take.
Despite buying from its sister movie studio, Jane Blaney, USA’s EVP programming, acquisitions & scheduling, stressed that the deal was made in a competitive situation. “We looked at all movies that were out there — we looked at the last Warner Bros and Disney packages, but this was the best list available.” For the movies on which USA and its sibling networks are in first position, the network is paying the market rate of license fees in the range of 10%-12% of the domestic box office. For the remaining library titles, the fee is lower and depends on the number of plays and length of window.
Over the past few years, USA has shifted focus from movies to original series. Despite that, “we are still in the movie business,” Blaney said. “We plan to have about 8-10 new movies a year.”