CBS has inked a deal with TNT for off-network cable rights to drama series NCIS: New Orleans.

Under the pact, TNT has the rights to the first three seasons of the praised drama starring Scott Bakula and each subsequent season after the drama has aired on CBS Network.  The deal is not exclusive and the show can be sold to SVOD and broadcast syndication. We hear TNT is paying a per-episode fee in the mid-to-high six figure range.

The sale comes in the middle of the third season of NCIS: New Orleans on CBS as the cable market for broadcast drama series has softened significantly over the last couple of years, with cable nets shifting to originals. In contrast, the second spinoff, NCIS: Los Angeles sold after only seven weeks on the air in what remains a high mark for broadcast drama in the neighborhood of $2.3 million per episode. Both NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles were bought by USA Network.

TNT has shied away from off-network dramas the last couple for years following a couple of big write-offs including one for $104 million for Without a Trace.  

“NCIS: New Orleans is the third series in a franchise that has had tremendous success in cable syndication (following NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles), and it continues to be a huge hit for CBS,” said Scott Koondel, Chief Corporate Content Licensing Officer for CBS Corporation. “We have no doubt it will bring its vast and loyal audience to TNT – one of cable’s finest networks.”

The series has been a top 10 scripted broadcast drama during its entire run. Premiering in 2014-2015, NCIS: New Orleans finished the season as the No.1 new show, and the most-watched new series in 10 years. Now in its fourth season, the series is averaging 12 million viewers.

Created by the late Gary Glasberg, NCIS: New Orleans focuses on the local Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) field office that inquires into cases involving military personnel in The Big Easy, a city known for its music, entertainment and decadence. Leading the team is Special Agent Dwayne Pride, a.k.a. “King” (Bakula), a native of New Orleans who is driven by his need to do what is right.

NCIS: New Orleans is produced by CBS Television Studios and executive produced by Brad Kern, James Hayman, Christopher Silber and Mark Harmon.