9:36pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
TBS Lands 'Rules of Engagement' in Syndication Deal
TBS may have found a companion for its syndicated repeats of The Big Bang Theory.
The Turner-owned cable network has landed off-network rights to Sony Pictures Television's Rules of Engagement, the studio announced Wednesday.
The comedy about different phases of the male-female relationship starring Oliver Hudson, Patrick Warburton and David Spade will debut Jan. 2 on TBS. The series currently airs in broadcast syndication in 96 percent of the country in major markets including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.
"We recently shot our 100th episode, which speaks to the ongoing appeal of this series and its cast,” SPT U.S. Distribution president John Weiser said in a statement announcing the news. “This show consistently outperforms its competition in adult demos and households and we’re very excited to be partnering with our friends at Turner Broadcasting.”
Rules received an eleventh-hour renewal in May when CBS picked up a 13-episode seventh season of the half hour series. After protracted talks with SPT, which left the network with no news to share during its May upfront presentation to advertisers, CBS slotted the comedy for midseason. The multicamera comedy has been a steady performer during its six-season run, despite being bounced all around the schedule.
Rules was originally slotted for Saturdays last season, before moving to a more visible and coveted post-Big Bang Theory slot on Thursday nights following the axing of freshman comedy How to Be a Gentleman. The show averaged a 3.3 rating in adults 18-49.
TBS has been seeing monumental returns on its pricey investment in The Big Bang Theory, with the Jim Parsons vehicle ranking as the No. 1 syndicated comedy and frequently outpacing many first-run broadcast efforts and boosting the network's viewership.
"With Big Bang, we've got an opportunity similar to Law & Order. We’re bringing in 1.6 million to 1.7 million and on many nights Big Bang beats broadcast comedy. It has allowed TBS to get the bragging rights to No. 1, which is great; and, more important, it's expanded the whole network," Turner Entertainment Networks president Steve Koonin told THRin June. In the network's bid to grow its comedy brand, TBS recently picked up Courteney Cox starrer Cougar Town after ABC opted to cancel the low-rated fan favorite.