Setting Sale for'Mike & Molly,' '2 Broke Girls'

Lots of potential bidders, but popular sitcoms are entering crowded market

Warner Bros.' Mike & Molly and 2 Broke Girls are set to be sold in broadcast and cable syndication. Offers were due last week from key broadcast groups and cable networks for Warner Bros.’ pair of sitcoms, according to several sources. Mike & Molly will premiere in 2014, while 2 Broke Girls will launch in 2015.

Among the potential broadcast bidders are groups that own sitcom-airing stations in the top three markets: Tribune, Fox and CBS. Cable networks expected to have turned in offers are TBS (a sister Time Warner company to Warner Bros.), News Corp.’s FX and Comcast NBCU’s USA Network. Other possible contenders are Lifetime, WGN America and Viacom’s Comedy Central, although the two broad-based, multi-camera sitcoms are a bit off-brand for that network.

Broadcast terms—other than license fees—for both shows are likely to be similar to those Warner Bros. Television Distribution set for Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory, says Bill Carroll, vice president and director of programming for the Katz Television Group. Those terms include double weekday runs and at least two weekend runs. Both shows are expected to be sold for cash-plus-barter in six-year cycles, just as Men and Bang were.

That said, neither Mike & Molly nor 2 Broke Girls is expected to command the license fees of Men and Bang. While 2 Broke Girls is positioned to potentially become a hit, it’s not considered to be there yet, with the show’s first-season finale hitting a season low. CBS has moved the sophomore show to the key Monday 9 p.m. time slot for fall, however, and that move could help the show’s ratings grow significantly.

Mike & Molly, headed into season three, will remain in its Monday 9:30 p.m. time slot, where it could benefit from any growth shown by 2 Broke Girls. Mike & Molly, starring Billy Gardell and Emmy-winner Melissa McCarthy, is executive produced by Chuck Lorre, who is the creator behind both Bang and Men, syndication’s top two sitcoms.

A few wild cards could make negotiations over the two sitcoms tricky. First, CBS Television Distribution and Tribune are developing a late-night talk show with Arsenio Hall that is likely to occupy Tribune’s 11 p.m. time slots, limiting that group’s immediate need for new sitcoms.

Similarly, Tribune is also said to be interested in Debmar-Mercury’s Anger Management, which premieres June 28 on FX. While Anger Management’s ratings performance remains an unknown, early buzz on the new Charlie Sheen vehicle is good, and the series is expected to go forward into broadcast syndication.

Both possibilities give Tribune some flexibility and make the station group less needy for other new sitcoms. As a result, broadcast bidding for Mike & Molly and 2 Broke Girls could be less robust than originally anticipated.

Other off-net sitcom possibilities for 2014 syndication include Hot in Cleveland (which CTD is shopping now), Raising Hope and Happy Endings. Comedies coming for 2015 likely will include New Girl, Last Man Standing, Up All Night, Whitney and Suburgatory.

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