Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution has sold The Big Bang Theory in its first markets after doing the initial launch deal with Fox and TBS on May 14.
The first five markets to acquire the show are Tampa (DMA 14), Pittsburgh (DMA 23), Milwaukee (DMA 35), Sacramento (DMA 20) and Kansas City (DMA 32). Hearst acquired the show in three markets: Tampa, Sacramento and Kansas City, where it owns independent WMOR, MyNetworkTV-affiliate KQCA and KCWE, one of the nation's top-rated CW affiliates, respectively.
Sinclair won the show for its MyNetworkTV-affiliate WPMY in Pittsburgh, while Weigel Broadcasting acquired the show for its CBS affiliate WDJT in Millwaukee.
All five markets are particularly competitive for off-net sitcoms, which is why Warner Bros. targeted its initial sales there. Besides the initial launch deal, Warner Bros. is selling the show market by market to get the best price, as opposed to doing group deals. That way, stations in each market get their shot at bidding on the show, and open bidding in the market is the best way to drive the price up.
Sources say Big Bang is doing Two and a Half Men-level prices or even above in some cases, even though it's being sold on the tail end of a bad economic period and will share its syndicated premiere with cable. That's likely because the supply of high-rated off-net sitcoms is scarce.
Twentieth's Modern Family is the next highly-anticipated sitcom coming down the pike, and that won't premiere until fall 2014, three years after Big Bang opens on TV stations and TBS.