EXCLUSIVE: USA Network and sibling Oxygen Media have closed a deal with Universal Television and Wolf Entertainment for the off-network rights of Dick Wolf’s NBC police drama series Chicago P.D. The series, which launches its fifth season on NBC next week, will begin airing in October on both networks, with episodes available on USA VOD and streaming apps immediately, and on Oxygen VOD and streaming apps beginning January 2018.
Under the agreement, which I hear is not exclusive, USA will air the first four seasons of Chicago P.D., kicking off with an all-day Season 1 marathon on Sunday, October 1, before shifting the series to a Friday afternoon marathon block beginning October 6. In addition, Oxygen will air the series with all-day marathons on Tuesdays, starting with episodes from Season 4 of the drama series on October 3.
Noone is commenting though I hear the license fee is in the neighborhood of $500,000 an episode.
The off-network deal for Chicago P.D. between Uni TV and USA/Oxygen — all part of NBCUniversal — is the first cable sale for a broadcast drama series in awhile as that market has soften significantly over the last couple of years, with cable nets shifting to originals.
Chicago P.D. also is the first Chicago series to sell in syndication just as the four-year old cop drama is becoming available for an off-network run. The year-older flagship Chicago Fire was taken out late last year but subsequently pulled. Unlike most Wolf dramas, which are straight procedurals, Chicago Fire is more soapy, a serialized drama with procedural elements. Chicago P.D. is more procedural and had been considered a stronger candidate to land a cable deal.
Chicago P.D. would fit well on both USA and Oxygen. USA carries fellow Dick Wolf NBC cop drama Law & Order: SVU, which remains a strong ratings performer for the cable network. Additionally, Chicago P.D. and L&O: SVU belong to the same franchise universe on NBC and are involved in crossovers.
Meanwhile, Oxygen recently rebranded itself as a crime network. Dick Wolf has been a key player in the revamp, producing two non-scripted series that have helped launch it, Cold Justice and Criminal Confessions, with discussions about possible larger involvement in the channel on an ownership level.
Chicago P.D., produced by Wolf Entertainment in association with Universal Television, is about the men and women of the Chicago Police Department’s elite Intelligence Unit who combat the city’s most heinous offenses – organized crime, drug trafficking, high profile murders and beyond. This past season, the series averaged 2.4 million adults 18-49 and 10.2 million total viewers in L+7, winning its Wednesday 10 PM time slot.
NBCUniversal Television and New Media Distribution managed the distribution rights agreement.