A high-five for "Big Bang Theory"

Off-net sitcom clears five more markets. Weigel’s WDJT/WMLW in Milwaukee gets syndie rights to show.

Warner Bros. red-hot Big Bang Theory has now cleared five more markets a month after the show cleared ten Fox-owned and operated stations, including WFLD-TV and WPWR-TV in Chicago.

Among the five markets cleared is Milwaukee, whose CBS-affiliated WDJT-TV purchased the show to air on the station and on sister independent WMLW. Both stations are owned by Chicago-owned Weigel Broadcasting Co.

The other markets are in Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Tampa-St. Petersburg, and Sacramento.

Warner is selling Big Bang the old-fashioned way: market-by-market in order to get the best price –  in other words, putting competing stations head-to-head in a bidding war – a method which until the last few years, has been standard for selling off-network sitcoms in broadcast syndication.

In Kansas City, Hearst’s duopoly of ABC affiliate KMBC and CW affiliate KCWE acquired the show, as did KQCA in Sacramento (also owned by Hearst), and another Hearst station (Tampa’s WMOR) grabbed the show as well.

But it wasn’t a clean sweep for Hearst, though: in Pittsburgh (where Hearst owns ABC affiliate WTAE), Sinclair won the rights for its WPMY-TV.

Hearst also owns WISN-TV in Milwaukee, where Weigel’s duopoly won the rights.

The bidding wars comes as big-ticket sitcoms are scarce and the cable window is now simultaneous with broadcast (TBS recently snatched Big Bang for more than $1 million per episode.)

CBS is shifting Big Bang out of its longtime Monday night time slot to anchor Thursday evenings this fall.