TV Guide Network, which has been aggressive in the acquisitions marketplace over the last few months, has landed its first off-network scripted program, securing the exclusive cable rights to ABC’s Ugly Betty.
The deal includes repurposing rights starting this fall, letting TV Guide Network air new episodes of Ugly Betty within 14 days of their premiere on ABC. It also lets the network run up to five episodes at a time on TVGuideNetwork.com.
The network will run Ugly Betty as a weekly strip starting in fall 2010.
“We looked at all the products that were out there,” said TV Guide Network president Ryan O’Hara. “We wanted something that fit with our brand and our network and that advertisers would be attracted to.”
O’Hara says he expects the network will use Betty and its other acquisitions as a launching pad for new, original programs, adding that they are “deep in the process” of figuring out which originals will get the green light.
With its new ownership of Lionsgate and JP Morgan (via One Equity Partners) completed in May, TV Guide Network is continuing its aggressive push to acquire off-network programs.
“We are very active in the market,” O’Hara says. “We like shows that have a connection to the world of celebrity, entertainment and pop culture, that are breakout shows, where fans love them and critics love them.”
The network was one of the final bidders for off-network rights to HBO’s Entourage (which eventually landed at Spike TV) and also acquired the rights to MTV celebrity prank show Punk’d.