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Lifetime Gets Some Desperate Housewives

Lifetime Television announced this week that they have acquired the exclusive basic cable rights from Buena Vista Television to ABC’s smash hit, "Desperate Housewives." There are two parts to this new deal – syndication rights and repurposing rights.

Desperate Housewives [photo: Buena Vista Television/ABC]Starting this August, Lifetime will begin airing the first season of the show on a weekly basis, similar to a regular syndication deal. Then in September 2008, for the show’s fourth season on ABC, Lifetime will begin airing the current episode on a delayed basis within 14 days of its ABC debut, but not opposite the show's Sunday night timeslot on ABC. This is the repurposing rights of the contract and is similar to how USA and Bravo air recent episodes of "Law & Order: SVU" and "Law & Order: CI" within 7-10 days of the episode’s first-run on NBC. All three of those networks – NBC, USA and Bravo – are owned by NBC-Universal, so the company is really using their own assets to promote each show’s ratings.

Further details of the contract, such as fees, have not been released yet, but it is interesting to note that this deal is really just another example of company synergy – in this case, The Walt Disney Company. Buena Vista Television is the domestic television distribution arm of The Walt Disney Company, ABC is a network owned by The Walt Disney Company and Lifetime Network is 50% owned by The Walt Disney Company (Hearst Corporation owns the other 50%).

And this isn’t the first time an ABC hit has gone to Lifetime – "Once and Again" was also a show repurposed in this manner back in 2000.

It will be interesting to see if "Desperate Housewives" will bring the same level of viewers to Lifetime that it has on ABC. It currently averages 22.5 million viewers and is the number one scripted series among women age 18-49 for the current 2005-2006 broadcast season. Since Lifetime positions itself as a women's network, any percentage of those viewers would provide a big boost in its competition with other women's networks such as Oxygen and WE.

For more information on the show, please visit abc.com.

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