Multiple Syndication Partners for CBS’ The Good Wife

Cable, streaming, local stations package worth $2 million per episode

Months after taking the homegrown show to market, CBS has secured a complex series of syndication deals for The Good Wife.

In a multiwindow deal that involves a basic cable network (Hallmark Channel), a pair of streaming partners (Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus) and a weekend broadcast syndication schedule, CBS has put together a package that reflects the increasing fragmentation of the traditional television audience.

“This is an off-network model for a unique serialized show in today’s television ecosystem,” said Leslie Moonves, president and CEO, CBS Corp., by way of announcing the arrangement. “It uses creative windowing to serve the content needs of best-in-class partners while realizing the full syndication value for a high-quality series. In addition, the potential for catch-up viewing across multiple platforms can provide incremental value to future broadcasts on CBS.”

While the financial underpinnings of the overall package were not disclosed, analysts estimated the aggregate value at slightly more than $2 million per episode. To date, 84 episodes of The Good Wife have aired on CBS.

While The Good Wife no longer draws the sort of ratings it boasted during its two seasons in the Tuesday 10 p.m. time slot, the show remains competitive on Sunday nights. Now in its second season in the 9 p.m. slot, the show generally outdelivers ABC’s Revenge and Fox’s Family Guy and American Dad in total viewers and is hanging tough with Revenge among the 25-54 demo.

The Amazon Prime component kicks in tomorrow March 14, with the current season (No. 4) arriving later this year. All Amazon Prime streams are commercial-free and can be viewed at no additional cost by members on a host of platforms, including Kindle Fire, iPad, iPhone, Roku, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii.

According to Brad Beale, director of digital video content acquisition for Amazon, The Good Wife “has consistently been one of the strongest sellers on Amazon Instant Video.”

Hallmark Channel will begin repurposing The Good Wife in January 2014. Hallmark closed out 2012 with an average prime-time delivery of 758,000 total viewers, down 7 percent versus the year-ago period. Women 25-54 grew 1 percent to 167,000, while adults 25-54 slipped 4 percent to 227,000.

The local broadcast syndication rights go into effect in September 2014. Including pickups at the CBS affiliates, clearances have been made in 85 percent of the country.

The Hulu component expands on a previous library-content agreement. The first three seasons of The Good Wife will be available to Hulu Plus subscribers beginning six months from now. 

Content licensing is one of the areas from which CBS derives a steady stream of incremental revenue. Per Nomura Equity Research analysis, CBS from 2010 to 2012 grew its TV licensing revenue 27 percent to $2.48 billion. That figure is expected to swell to $2.97 billion by next year.

In terms of pricing and sheer timing, CBS’ most audacious syndication deal to date was brokered with NBCUniversal’s USA Network, which in 2009 paid $2.5 million per episode for the rights to NCIS: Los Angeles. At the time the deal was completed, the NCIS spin-off had only been on the air for seven weeks.

CBS commanded a similar fee ($2.4 million a pop) for its self-produced Hawaii Five-O, which it dealt to TNT in April 2011. As procedurals, both NCIS:Los Angeles and Hawaii Five-O were easier to sell than the serialized drama that is The Good Wife.

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