Off-net 'Lost' lands at Sci Fi, G4

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Sci Fi Channel and G4 have snapped up off-network cable rights to ABC's "Lost" from Disney-ABC Domestic Television.

As part of what sources said was a six-year agreement, the duo will share rights to all six seasons of the series starting in fall 2008. Sci Fi is planning to "stack" the drama in a weekly four-hour primetime block, possibly on Monday nights, and also has obtained the right to stream a limited number of episodes at SciFi.com.

G4, which will air the show as a primetime strip, is planning to give "Lost" the same interactive treatment it has given such acquired series as "Cops" and "Star Trek," dubbing it "Lost 2.0" and offering viewers multiple interactive and Web-enabled elements. G4 also has obtained exclusive cable weekend rights as well as the right to stream a limited number of episodes at G4tv.com.

Over the summer, ABC announced that the Emmy-winning series would end its run at the conclusion of three more seasons consisting of 16 episodes each. Season 4 bows in February.

All parties declined comment on financial terms of the off-net deal, but sources said Sci Fi and G4 paid a total of $200,000 per episode, with Sci Fi shelling out a majority of that amount.

Executives at both Sci Fi and G4 touted the quality and popularity of "Lost" as reasons why they were interested in acquiring the series.

"Right out of the box, this was a hot water-cooler show that everybody was talking about," said Thomas Vitale, senior vp programming and original movies at Sci Fi. "With the quality, performance and buzziness, along with the genre, this was a great fit for Sci Fi. It fits our brand perfectly and adds to the overall programming mix."

He added that the Sci Fi audience "responds best when they can really get into a show, so we're excited about" running it as a "mini-marathon" every week.

G4, meanwhile, also will have the ability to air the show in its original form, though president Neal Tiles noted that the "2.0" versions of its acquired series are popular with the network's young male-centric audience. He said "Cops 2.0" helped to "age the audience down" by nine years, while "Star Trek 2.0" was the network's highest-rated show among males 18-34 when it premiered.

"This show is so intricate, with so many different story lines happening in every episode, we thought it was a good opportunity for us to pursue these different elements (with an interactive version)," Tiles said. "This is an interesting way for people who have seen the series to rediscover it and for people who haven't seen it to jump in for the first time."

Neither Sci Fi nor G4 is concerned about sharing rights, citing minimal audience duplication and the fact that each is planning to air the series in a different form. Tiles added that G4's interactive elements also might complement what's taking place in new episodes airing on ABC.

"Lost" is the second recent acquisition for G4, following last week's announcement that it was sharing off-network cable rights with Mojo to NBC's "Heroes."

"Lost," from ABC Studios, was created by Jeffrey Lieber and J.J. Abrams & Damon Lindelof and is exec produced by Abrams, Lindelof, Bryan Burk, Jack Bender and Carlton Cuse.
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