ION Television has joined Shaftesbury, Canadian network CTV and Fox International as a producer on the Canadian procedural drama series The Listener for its 13-episode fifth season, which started production earlier this year. Under the agreement, ION becomes the exclusive U.S. television network for originals of fifth and future seasons of the series. ION has been carrying The Listener — in 2011, the network acquired the first two seasons of the drama, which was originally picked up by NBC for a summer 2009 run of Season 1, which was cut short after several episodes. After the show did well alongside CBS’ off-network procedurals, including Criminal Minds and Law & Order; Criminal Intent, I hear ION exercised its option to become a co-producer of original episodes. The network used a similar strategy for another popular Canadian procedural drama, Flashpoint, first inking a syndication deal with CBS for the show’s Season 1-4 episodes that had aired on CBS (plus 11 that hadn’t aired) before becoming Flashpoint‘s exclusive US network for Season 5.
Another CBS procedural drama is headed to off-network syndication. Following the recent deals for CBS’ Person Of Interest, distributed by Warner Bros., and Elementary, distributed by CBS Domestic Television, the network’s Blue Bloods, also from CBS TV Distribution, is landing off-network pacts. I’ve learned that CBS TV Distribution is finalizing a three-prong multi-platform syndication sale for the cop/family drama starring Tom Selleck. It includes a pact with ION for the broadcast syndication rights, a deal with WGN America, which has purchased basic cable rights, and a pending deal with an SVOD partner. I hear ION is getting exclusive rights to air the series in primetime and will share with WGN outside of primetime. Blue Bloods is expected to launch in syndication later this year, after its current fourth season wraps on CBS. On ION, Blue Bloods will join a primetime slate built on crime dramas, including CBS’ Criminal Minds, which has been particularly successful, two series that aired on CBS, Cold Case and Flashpoint, along with Law & Order: CI. WGN has been very aggressive in its first year under new management, snapping up off-network dramas in addition to building an original series slate. WGN acquired both POI and Elementary, and will now share Blue Bloods. In its fourth season, Blue Bloods is averaging 14 million viewers (most current), up +7% from last year. This past Friday, the show hit a season high in …
Almost a year and a half after it was slapped with $4 million breach of contract lawsuit over a show that they say they didn’t agree to take, ION Media has emerged victorious. On Friday, a federal judge granted the company’s motion for summary judgment (read it here) against plaintiff Atlantique Productions over the French police series Le Grand. In October 2012, Atlantique claimed it had a multimillion-dollar multi-episode deal with ION to make the cop show the broadcaster’s first original series. The French company alleged it had already sent more that $41 million in invoices to ION but hadn’t seen a cent before ION walked away from having anything to do with the Jean Reno-starring series. ION said it never had a solid contract for Le Grand, and last week District Judge Dolly Gee agreed. “Absent a signed agreement, the parties did not have a valid, binding contract. Ion’s motion for summary judgment is therefore GRANTED as to Atlantique’s breach of contract claim,” she wrote in her order, which denied a partial summary judgment that Atlantique was seeking. The 21-page order also tossed Atlantique’s claims of fraud, unjust enrichment and promissory estoppel. Case closed.
Regulators voted today to consider a change in its media ownership rules in a way that has irked station owners, but cheered public interest activists. In a 2-to-1 vote, the FCC approved a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that might scrap a 30-year-old provision called the UHF discount. It relates to the law Congress passed in 2004 that bars a company from controlling stations that reach more than 39% of all households. For the purpose of that calculation, the discount requires the agency to just count half of the audience reached by UHF stations. The outlets used to transmit weaker signals than other stations on the VHF band, which included channels 2-to-13. That distinction became virtually meaningless after 2009 when stations replaced their analog signals with digital ones. So, a simple change? Nope. Broadcasters including Univision and ION feared that they might find themselves over the 39% cap — or so close that they couldn’t participate in the torrid deal market for TV stations. The FCC appears to have addressed their biggest concerns by grandfathering station groups that might find themselves above the cap, and those that applied to the FCC for approval of a deal before today’s vote. ”The Commission and the television industry have anticipated the elimination of this discount for well over a decade,” Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn says. “It is our task as regulators to ensure that our rules reflect current market realities.”
ION just announced that it has picked up two dramas that originated on USA Network: Burn Notice and White Collar. Each show was a top rated scripted cable original series among 25-to-54 year olds on the nights they aired, and ranked among the top 10 dramas for those making $100k+, ION says. They join a line up that includes Psych (originally on USA), Leverage (TNT), and Monk (USA).
On the heels of its pickup of the off-network rights to Numbers, ION Television has acquired another long-running procedural, Law & Order: Criminal Intent. ION has bought all 10 seasons (195 episodes) of the Law & Order spinoff series, which started its run on NBC and ended it on USA Network. At ION, it joins Numbers, Flashpoint, Criminal Minds, Cold Case and Leverage and WWE Main Event.
ION Television has closed an off-network syndication deal with CBS Television Distribution for all six seasons (118 episodes) of the CBS procedural drama Numbers. The series is set to premiere on ION during the 2012/13 television season. “Numbers aligns perfectly with our general entertainment schedule and is a natural next step in our syndicated series expansion strategy,” said Brandon Burgess, CEO, ION Media Networks. On ION, Numbers joins a lineup that includes original program WWE Main Event and off-network series Flashpoint, Criminal Minds, Cold Case and Leverage.
ION Television has teamed with WWE for a new weekly one-hour original series. WWE Main Event will debut October 3 and air on Wednesday nights at 8 PM. It will feature WWE stars from the rosters of Monday Night Raw and Friday Night SmackDown, including in-ring action and storylines. The new show provides WWE with a show on a broadcast network for the first time since Friday Night SmackDown left MyNetworkTV in September 2010 and gives the wrestling federation weekly programs on Monday (Monday Night Raw on USA), Wednesday (WWE Main Event on ION) and Friday (Friday Night SmackDown on Syfy). “As a general entertainment network with a solid foundation, WWE Main Event is a great addition to our lineup that features something for everyone,” ION Media Networks CEO Brandon Burgess said.
NEW YORK, January 3, 2012 – ION Television announced today it is renewing its original police drama Flashpoint for a fifth season. The network is picking up 13 more episodes, set to begin shooting in February 2012. The announcement was made today by Brandon Burgess, CEO, ION Media Networks.
Flashpoint joined ION’s primetime schedule in October 2011 after the network acquired all episodes from seasons 1-3 along with 11 season four original episodes. The production of season five contributes to ION Television’s original programming goals for 2012 and beyond. Since its debut on ION, Flashpoint recorded its highest-telecast ever among the network’s key demos on December 27, including households (1.5 million), A25-54 (869,000), W25-54 (566,000) and among total viewers (2.1 million).
“Flashpoint’s solid performance season-to-date shows that a growing number of fans enjoy the series on ION Television,” says Burgess. “We welcome back this exciting dramatic series and its cast to ION Television for another season in 2012.”
EXCLUSIVE: I hear that ION Television has renewed Canadian-produced cop drama Flashpoint for a fifth season. The broadcast network is picking up all 13 episodes of the series’ fifth season, set to begin production in February 2012. Flashpoint, Canada’s most-watched drama series, has already been renewed north of the border by CTV with a 13-episode fifth-season order. Flashpoint was the first of the recent wave of Canadian scripted series to launch successfully in the U.S. when it premiered on CBS in 2008. Earlier this year, it became the first of the Canadian imports to land a U.S. syndication deal in a complex arrangement with CBS and ION. Under the deal, ION acquired all episodes from Seasons 1-4 that had aired in the U.S. on CBS along with 11 first-run (in the U.S.) Season 4 episodes. Since its ION debut in October, Flashpoint has been growing in the ratings. In its most recent airing on December 27, the drama posted series highs on the network in total viewers (2.1 million) and several demos, including adults 25-54 (869,000).
EXCLUSIVE: In the summer of 2008, Flashpoint became the first of several Canadian series picked up around the writers strike to premiere on a U.S. network, CBS. It became the first and only Canadian series success story here until the debut of Rookie Blue on ABC this summer. Now, Flashpoint has become the first of the Canadian imports to land a U.S. syndication deal in a complex arrangement with CBS and ION that will allow both Flashpoint‘s current U.S. network home, CBS, and its new one, ION, to air originals of the procedural about an elite tactical unit.
CBS currently has 6 unaired episodes from Flashpoint‘s third season that it had been keeping as a backup but won’t need this season as CBS’ drama lineup has performed well. Meanwhile, because of the success of the series in Canada, its broadcaster there, CTV, has already greenlighted an 18-episode fourth season. CBS will pick up 7 of the 18 episodes from Season 4 to air with the 6 unaired Season 3 segments for a 13-episode run during the summer. Soon after that, ION is expected to begin airing all 51 episodes of the show that will have aired on CBS. Additionally, ION will premiere the remaining 11 episodes of Flashpoint’s fourth season.
Flashpoint will feel right at home on ION whose …
Though the material market is summer sluggish, WME has managed the neat trick of closing in on three script deals this week, with another on the brink.
The spec in play is Ion, a Will Dunn scifi script that has Channing Tatum attached, with Scott Free producing. Fox 2000 (Scott Free’s home studio) has made an offer, but other studios are circling. A man travels to different dimensions in an effort to find his reincarnated love. It would be the first sale for Dunn, a British scribe., who has spent the past half year honing the material with input from Scott Free and Tatum. WME is selling with The Safran Co.
Mandate Pictures is closing in on a deal to acquire Hell to Pay, a script by Vlas and Charley Parlapanides, who wrote the Tarsem-directed Immortals, which Relativity and Universal are shooting right now. The spec is a revenge thriller about a man who returns home from the Air Force stint and becomes the fall guy to settle his father’s gambling debt to the head of a Miami mob. He takes the rap for the mobster’s son. While serving the jail stretch, the man’s father is murdered by the mob boss. He seeks to square things when he is released. WME sold that script with Underground.
Morgan Creek bought Step Dawg, a comic script by Jeff Tetreault about a 30-ish man who returns home to discover that his single mom plans to marry his …