Beating out TBS, ABC Family, FX, Comedy Central, and possibly one other mystery channel, Lifetime has scored exclusive cable rights to air re-runs of How I Met Your Mother, the critically-acclaimed CBS sitcom that is still trying to find an audience.
At the end of each of its previous three seasons, HIMYM was reportedly on the verge of cancellation, but it apparently averaged 9 million viewers last season and Monday’s season four premiere scored 9.79 million viewers, so maybe people are finally tuning in. Nonetheless, we hope Lifetime’s $725,000-750,000 an episode fee for 110 half-hours was worth it. That’s one hot Mother.
Variety: [Lifetime’s payment is] the second biggest licence fee ever ponied up by a cable network for a sitcom in the first cycle, beaten only by the $800,000 an episode shelled out by FX for Warner Bros. Domestic’s “Two and a Half Men.”
Twentieth is also poised to add another $800,000 an episode or more in licence fees from the simultaneous sale of “Mother” to TV stations in off-network syndication, which will share the runs with Lifetime…
“Mother” has become one of the bellwethers of CBS’ Monday-night sitcom lineup, averaging 9 million viewers and adding 450,000 people 18 to 49 during the 2007-08 season.
The $82.5 million licence fee is one of the two revenue streams flowing into Twentieth’s coffers. The second is the three 30-second spots that the distrib will hold back in each half-hour run on Lifetime, which could be worth another $200,000 or more for each episode over the four years, depending on the health of the advertising marketplace.
The Hollywood Reporter adds more details about why “Mother” was so highly desired.
THR: [S]ources said “Mother” fetched around $725,000 per episode in a highly competitive bidding situation that included at least six interested cable nets. It was considered a hot property because of the diminishing number of off-net sitcoms coming available.
“Mother’s” per-episode fee seems in line with other recent high-profile off-net comedy sales to cable. it falls between FX’s purchase of “Two and a Half Men” in 2006 ($750,000 an episode) and TBS’ licensing of “The Office” last year ($650,000).
Lifetime’s four-year licensing deal includes up to eight seasons of “Mother,” should the CBS comedy run that long. “Mother” had a big fourth-season premiere Monday, jumping 21% in the ratings over last season.
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