Yes, it’s true – Disney-ABC Domestic Television Distribution has sold off-network rights to Ugly Betty to the TV Guide Channel – a channel known primarily for scrolling TV listings.
The series will be stripped beginning in Fall 2010, but the network will begin airing “re-purposed” episodes of the fourth season of the show two weeks after new episodes appear on ABC.
Also, TV Guide Channel gains the right to stream five episodes a week on its website.
Indicating a possible lack of interest from potential suitors, Disney-ABC Domestic Television only garnered $200,000 an episode from TV Guide Channel. By comparison, Spike TV recently paid $600,000 for exclusive basic cable rights to the HBO comedy hit Entourage, which also debuts in 2010. The serialized nature of Betty also may have hurt the price Disney was seeking for, as this type of program have historically performed poorly when repeated in syndication.
Though Ugly Betty performed well in its first season, ratings have dropped for the last two seasons. The program has lost steam in its 7 p.m. Thursday time slot, opposite Survivor on CBS.
For TV Guide Channel, the move give them a proven series to air as the cable channel diversifies its programming lineup by acquiring more off-network fare. The channel also acquired repeats of P’unkd from Litton Entertainment.