ABC outbid rival networks, paying upwards of $140 million for the
broadcast rights to the first two Harry Potter films.
The Disney-owned network secured the deal with Warner Bros. Thursday for box office smash Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and its planned sequel Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
The sequel is expected to arrive in theaters next November.
The split-window deal allows Disney to run the films on
ABC and co-owned cable networks Disney Channel and newcomer ABC Family.
Disney gets the broadcast rights for 10 years on each film, with Sorcerer's Stone first becoming available in 2004.
Chamber of Secrets will come
available to the Disney networks starting in 2005.
Both Warner Bros. films will air on HBO prior to making their broadcast debuts.
ABC Broadcast President Steve Bornstein called it a 'significant deal' with 'clear and distinct opportunities' for Disney and the two ABC nets.
- Joe Schlosser