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Buena Vista Sells ‘Jim’ to Tribune

Mar 22, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Buena Vista Television last week announced the sale of “According to Jim” to eight Tribune stations for a fall 2006 syndication launch. The deal follows last year’s sale of ABC’s “My Wife and Kids” to the same station group, as the distributor continues to take advantage of its sibling network’s sitcom pipeline.
The “Jim” deal with the Tribune group is estimated by station sources to have cinched the dollar levels obtained by “My Wife and Kids” with a barter window for stations that include WPIX-TV in New York, KTLA-TV in Los Angeles, WGN-TV in Chicago, WPHL-TV in Philadelphia, WLVI-TV in Boston, KDAF-TV in Dallas, WATL-TV in Atlanta and KHWB-TV in Houston. The sources estimated that Buena Vista earned about $325,000 per episode from Tribune for the series.
“We think `According to Jim’ is a terrific show,” said Marc Schacher, VP, programming, Tribune Broadcasting Co. “We’re delighted to add it to our stations’ lineups in fall 2006.”
The deal will run for at least four years and could potentially expand to a seven-year window if ABC continues to order more seasons of the series. Sources estimated that Buena Vista could eventually end up with a total of more than $2 million per episode by the time the series is cleared on other stations throughout the country. Cable runs are set to kick in in 2009, year four of the deal.
“If you look at `According to Jim,’ it’s very close in content to what you see in `Everybody Loves Raymond,’ said John Bryan, executive VP, sales, Buena Vista Television. “Because of this and the show’s natural appeal to males, Tribune has the flexibility to pair the shows together.”
The male appeal was key to sealing the deal, Buena Vista executives said. Before the series was taken to stations, Buena Vista Television President Janice Marinelli noted that “in syndication, it’s the male-skewing shows that drive the marketplace. The `Home Improvements,’ `Seinfelds’ and `Everybody Loves Raymonds’ all provided strong series for the marketplace. `Jim’ is no different and boasts a similar track record of time-period performance.”
With the initial sale done, Mr. Bryan will now focus on mopping up the rest of the country before getting ready for next year’s likely sale of “8 Simple Rules.” The continual pipeline of off-net series has helped boost Buena Vista’s presence in the syndication marketplace. Already, industry analysts are licking their chops over this year’s ABC hit, “Hope & Faith.”
“If you look at the scarcity of scripted programming on the networks, it is getting more and more rare to find a successful, sustainable series that can make it to the back-end,” Mr. Bryan said. “There’s 55 hours of reality programming on the networks, and as you go out past ’06, there just isn’t much there anymore. Fortunately for our network, that’s been what their bread and butter is, and that benefits us.”