'Good Wife' Syndication Deal Includes Amazon, Hulu Plus and Hallmark Channel

9:06 AM PST 03/13/2013 by Marisa Guthrie, Georg Szalai
CBS

CBS CEO Leslie Moonves calls it “an off-network model for a unique serialized show in today’s television ecosystem.”

CBS has forged an innovative syndication deal for the Julianna Margulies drama The Good Wife that will kick off tomorrow with the first three season’s of the series streaming on Amazon Prime Instant Video, while the current fourth season will bow on the service later this year. Then Hulu Plus will roll out previous seasons in September. And finally Hallmark Channel will begin airing episodes of the CBS Studio series in January 2014.

CBS Corporation CEO Leslie Moonves called the deal – which utilizes multiple platforms including subscription-video-on-demand and the legacy cable – “an off-network model for a unique serialized show in today’s television ecosystem.”

“It uses creative windowing to serve the content needs of best-in-class partners while realizing the full syndication value for a high-quality series. In addition, the potential for catch-up viewing across multiple platforms can provide incremental value to future broadcasts on the CBS Television Network,” said Moonves in a statement released Wednesday.

Serialized dramas typically do not command the syndication riches or raitngs of procedurals or multi-camera comedies. This deal is designed to spur so-called binge viewing on streaming platforms and the hope is, bring new fans to the series.

Brad Beale, director of digital video content acquisitions for Amazon, noted that The Good Wife has “consistently been one of the strongest sellers on Amazon Instant Video, so we know our customers love the show.”

Added Scott Koondel, CBS Corp.’s chief content licensing officer: “This is a syndication rollout that’s a great match of program with partners. The Good Wife episodes have been popular on Amazon’s electronic-sell-through service, and addictive serialized dramas like this perform very well on Hulu Plus. Meanwhile, the Hallmark brand has always been associated with quality and prestige, and The Good Wife is one of the most honored, critically acclaimed and talked-about shows on television.”

In 2011, Sony Pictures Television sealed an exclusive deal to put three seasons of cult favorite Community on Hulu Plus. But The Good Wife deal is much broader. And Moonves signaled possible new approaches to syndication at a recent investor conference when he noted that such deals would increasingly include multiple platforms and delivery systems.

“You're seeing a lot more creative deal-making,” he said at the Deutsche Bank Media, Internet & Telecom Conference last week. “A few years ago, when we made the NCIS: LA deal, which sold for a huge amount of money - at that time, it was over $2 million for a domestic syndication show to cable, the SVOD rights went along with it.”

But he added: “Nowadays, most of the time if they pay a high ticket price, they will get all the rights, but now you're looking at deals where you split it up more. You slice and dice it even more than you did before where you'll sell it to a Netflix or an Amazon and then sell it to a cable [network], then sell it in syndication."

On his company’s fourth-quarter earnings call, he also highlighted the importance of licensing shows into "a rapidly expanding international marketplace." Said Moonves: "The international marketplace continues to thrive. Each year, revenue and profits go up considerably. This past year, we booked $1.1 billion in revenue, and we are confident we will exceed that this year.”

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