The pipeline light on upcoming off-net comedies and their own schedule heavy on pricey originals, FX laid down an estimated $750,000 an episode to rerun the CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men.
The deal with Warner Bros. Domestic Cable Distribution for the high-rated sitcom, which begins in 2010, is second only in price to the $1 million an episode Turner paid for Seinfeld in 1998.
Warner Bros. earlier this summer sold Men to the Tribune Broadcasting stations for fall, 2007. As in the Tribune deal, FX's includes the option to stream up to five different episodes per week. FX, who is said to have beat out an aggressive bidder in Turner for the show, is well known right now for its often risqué original dramas, including Rescue Me and The Shield. Those shows are expensive to make and it is uncertain how long they will run for.
An acquired comedy on the other hand can provide solid returns for years. The Men deal will begin when Men is in its seventh season and allows for FX to run episodes 12 times for week and ends in 2014.
FX also acquired the show at a time when there aren't many other comedies on the horizon. NBC has hits in My Name is Earl and The Office, but both pull smaller audiences than Men. HBO's Hollywood-centered Entourage is popular, but will have to be cleaned up for basic cable and targets a niche audience.