Comedy Central, WGN Snap Up 30 Rock Rights

Comedy Central and Tribune Co.’s WGN America have snapped up the off-net rights to NBC’s 30 Rock, in a multiyear deal believed to be worth between $700,000 to $800,000 per episode.

Per terms of the pact with NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution, the Viacom-owned Comedy Central and WGN will begin running episodes of the Tina Fey/Alec Baldwin vehicle in the fourth quarter of 2011.

The joint rights agreement is similar to the May 2009 deal engineered by Comedy Central sibling Spike TV and WGN, in which the two nets took joint custody of the off-net rights to HBO’s Entourage. Repeats of Entourage will appear on Spike and WGN starting fall 2010.

By way of announcing the deal, Comedy Central senior vp of programming David Bernath characterized 30 Rock as “one of the funniest shows on television,” adding that the half-hour strip is “a perfect DNA match for our viewers.”

With its third season on the books, 30 Rock will be nearing the 100-episode mark at around the same time it makes its cable debut. Per Nielsen ratings data, season three averaged 6.6 million viewers, an 11 percent improvement from the prior-season average.

Nominated for a record 17 Emmy Awards in 2008, 30 Rock walked away with seven statuettes, including one for Outstanding Comedy Series. The show also nabbed a Golden Globe for Best Television Series.