WEDNESDAY 12:30 AM UPDATE: Insiders tell Deadline that FX as recently as last week wasn’t even going after the off-network cable syndication rights to the CBS comedy Mike & Molly from Warner Bros Domestic Television Distribution. “We were not in the bidding and had no intention to be, based on how crazy-high pricing on sitcoms has been lately,” an executive explains. Conventional wisdom in the syndication community had the sitcom going to TBS in yet another Time Warner synergistic deal. But now the sitcom will debut on FX in September 2014, and the network has cable syndication exclusivity and the ability to air the series in all dayparts. Mike & Molly now joins fellow comedies Two And A Half Men and How I Met Your Mother on the FX roster. So what happened? The bargain basement price.
According to sources, the license fee is under $1 million an episode, with insiders detailing that it sold for as low as $750,000 an episode. “We came into the bidding at the very end of last week when we got a sense of where the marketplace was,” one executive explains to Deadline. “We felt that this was a very good show that was going to go for a reasonable price and could not resist the value proposition.” Indeed, the price for Mike & Molly looked like pennies compared to the record-setting off-network sale of fellow Warner Bros comedy series Two Broke Girls‘ reported $1.7M an episode license fee. “It was a very good deal for us,” another exec tells us.
Two weeks ago, Warner Bros TV took both shows out. But because there was stronger interest in freshman 2 Broke Girls, the studio opted to focus on it first. That sparked a bidding war won by TBS. At the same time, Warner Bros also sold both sitcoms in broadcast syndication to the CBS stations. Mike & Molly‘s cable sale was next. But it didn’t create the bidding frenzy that Two Broke Girls triggered. Ergo the more moderate license fee. True, Mike & Molly doesn’t seem like a good fit with FX programing on the surface. “But our pre-10 o’clock shows are different than our after-10 o’clock shows,” an exec insists.
Ever since Seinfeld set the off-network sale record with a $1 million license fee per episode seemingly eons ago, successful sitcom syndications have been fewer but pricier. Warner Bros’ The Big Bang Theory set a new record by selling to TBS in 2010 for $1.5 million an episode. 20th TV’s Modern Family went for close to that to USA. So don’t expect prices to come down now.
PREVIOUS TUESDAY 12:30 PM: FX has acquired off-network cable syndication rights to the CBS comedy Mike & Molly from Warner Bros Domestic Television Distribution. The network said the sitcom will debut in September 2014; FX has cable syndication exclusivity and the ability to air the series in all dayparts. Mike & Molly joins fellow comedies Two And A Half Men and How I Met Your Mother on the network’s roster.