Selling the 'Glee'

Twentieth Television turns its attention to pitching its hit to stations for 2013

With two major distribution deals already secured, Twentieth Television is now prepping to take its latest darling, Glee, out to sell to TV stations for a 2013 syndication launch.

Twentieth sold Glee to NBC Universal’s Oxygen last summer, and last month the Fox Television Stations grabbed the show for its stations in 10 markets, nine of which are duopolies. Fox acquired the show for the same terms available to all stations: on an all-barter basis, with stations keeping 7½ minutes of advertising time per episode.

While Twentieth and the Fox TV stations are both under News Corp.’s corporate umbrella, the Fox TV stations still exercise a healthy right of choice when it comes to acquiring off-network shows. The group expects to air crowd-pleaser Glee on weekend evenings, quite possibly in primetime in some markets, or in primetime-adjacent slots.

Now Twentieth is turning its focus toward locking in the rest of the country. Most stations have room for weekend hours, so targets include both affiliated and non-affiliated stations. While Tribune often won’t buy something if Fox already has it, even they can’t be ruled out for picking Glee up in smaller markets.

One key question that stations consider when evaluating off-net purchases is how well the show performs in repeats. This season to date, Glee is retaining 42% of its total viewing audience, including 30% among women 18-34 and 35% among both women and adults 18-49. However, those levels are typical for shows with serialized plot lines. Comparatively, ABC’s top-rated sitcom Modern Family holds 59% of its viewing audience in repeats, while serialized drama Grey’s Anatomy retains just 35%.

Glee, now in its second season on Fox, is both a ratings performer and a pop-culture phenomenon, setting the record for the most entries ever on the Billboard Top 100, beating out both the Beatles and Elvis Presley.

Oxygen has already seen some success after running a 12-hour marathon of the show on Saturday, Feb. 5. The “Gleekend” set a network record with some 4.4 million viewers tuning in over the course of the day.

And the cable network has much more planned, including reality show The Glee Project, slated to air this summer, even though Glee itself won’t appear regularly until 2013.

“Young women are so passionate about the unscripted genre,” says Jason Klarman, Oxygen president. “What bigger stakes are there than winning a seven-part arc on the hottest show on television? Getting The Glee Project really was the clincher for us. It ties us to Glee right now.”

The Glee Project was really a unique opportunity that had never been done before,” says Steve MacDonald, Twentieth executive VP of cable sales. “As innovative as it is, people in the market were still a little frightened of it. Oxygen understood the opportunity instantaneously.”

Young women—Oxygen’s target audience—comprise Glee’s key demographic. Glee is the fourth-highest-ranked show among women 18-34, behind only American Idol’s performance and results shows and ABC’s Grey’sAnatomy, according to Nielsen. Glee falls back a bit among women 18-49, where it’s ranked ninth. Glee also performs well among the affluent, with more than one-third of its audience earning $100,000 annually. That’s up compared to Fox’s typical audience, 25% of which earns that level of income.

“This is a big, bold network show,” says Paul Franklin, Twentieth general manager and executive VP of broadcast sales. “It’s come on, it’s broken through and the demo is right in the sweet spot.”

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