Two and a Half Times the second cycle

Want more Two and a Half Men in syndication? You got it.

But if  you want more crazy Charlie Sheen going ape in a hotel room moments, you’ll have to wait – those come at random.

In a story Broadcasting & Cable broke Wednesday, Tribune Broadcasting and Sinclair Broadcasting announced they has renewed Two and a Half Men for a second cycle until the beginning of the next decade – through 2021.

The deal includes Chicago’s WGN-TV and 18 other Tribune stations, including WPIX in New York, KTLA in Los Angeles, and WXIN in Indianapolis.  In addition, Sinclair’s 22 incumbent markets who already carry the show also have it th1ough 2021, including WPGH in Pittsburgh, and WCGV/WVTV in Milwaukee. With those deals, Men is now cleared for a second cycle in 40 markets, covering 47 percent of the country.

Thanks to Tribune programming chief Sean Compton, his station group wasn’t going to sit idly by and watch a rival station group like Fox steal away Men after the company outbid Tribune for two hot off-network properties (Big Bang Theory and Modern Family.) He made a premium offer for the show before Warner Bros. would bring Men to market for a second cycle.

Usually, syndicators wait until the sitcom would end its network run before offering a second cycle, because if the network renews a sitcom for another season in prime-time while the series is concurrently running in off-net syndication, the licensing term for the first cycle is usually extended another six months to a year to accommodate the extra off-net episodes. When  Friends, Seinfeld, and Everybody Loves Raymond announced the end of their network runs, their respective syndicators were quick to get second-cycle sales pitches to stations immediately.

However, there have been exceptions. In October 1989, Viacom rolled out the second cycle of The Cosby Show, even though the series was only in its second year of off-network syndication at the time and didn’t end its NBC run until 1992 (the second syndication cycle for Cosby started in September 1993.) Recently, Twentieth offered Family Guy for a second cycle mainly because the first cycle was offered as a straight four-year deal with no extensions. In both cases however, the price-per-episode of those shows came down significantly.

With Men, Tribune decided to pay more in the second cycle, akin to what stations did with the second cycles of Friends and Seinfeld. And like those two at the time of their sale the second time around, Men is a hot show in syndication, finishing as the top off-net  sitcom in syndication every week for the last three years – not to mention its stellar Monday night showing on CBS, finishing either first or a close second in adults 18-49. CBS has renewed Men through 2012, ensuring a ninth season of the series.

Men also has a concurrent run on FX (who paid $850,000 per episode for the series), which began running in tandem with broadcast stations this fall. This has helped its national number in syndication to a great degree – the program ranks north of a 5 household rating and a 3 rating among 25-54. Those numbers are up from last year, when it was running exclusively on broadcast stations.

In Chicago, Two and a Half Men reruns usually beat those of The Simpsons, at both 6 and 10:30 p.m.:

Two and a Half Men earned $2 million per episode (not counting barter sales) from broadcasters, who started stripping the series on September 10, 2007.

With Men locked up for the endless future, Tribune can at least claim a victory in the midst of the executive upheaval and the bad press the company has been through in recent months. Certainly, if Michaels and his gang were still around, Charlie Sheen no doubt would be invited to play poker with the boys at Trib Tower.