CBS to syndicate “Hot In Cleveland”

CBS Television Distribution has picked up the syndication rights of TV Land’s original sitcom Hot In Cleveland to sell to broadcast stations, eying a launch in either 2013 or 2014.

The multi-camera shot series, which stars Betty White, has been a surprise hit for TV Land, averaging 3-to-4 million viewers during its two-season run.  TV Land has been branching out from its mission of strictly running classic off-network series to air more original programming.

At the end of this current production cycle, Cleveland would have 58 episodes.

Excluding feature film packages, this marks the first time CBS Television Distribution has syndicated a series from a Viacom-owned cable channel since the split of the original Viacom Inc. on December 31, 2005 creating two different companies: CBS Corporation and Viacom, who owns Paramount Pictures and all non-Showtime cable properties. Prior to 2006, Viacom’s cable properties (excluding South Park, which went to Debmar-Mercury) were handled for syndication by Paramount Domestic Television, the predecessor to CBS Television Distribution. Viacom was spun off of CBS, Inc. into a separate company in 1971 due to the now-defunct financial interest and syndication rules. Since the split, Litton Communications and Trifecta Entertainment have handled the bulk of Viacom-owned cable product (such as MTV’s Cribs and The Hills) in syndication.

The acquisition of Cleveland was necessary for CTD – even though it dominates the syndication ratings with several series in the top ten, its off-network sitcom shelf of recent series is getting bare: currently, CBS has only two post-1995 off-net sitcoms left in broadcast syndication: Everybody Loves Raymond and Everybody Hates Chris (both are not related. Really.) Chris‘ syndie contract is up after this season; Raymond runs through 2013.

With Cleveland possibly available for 2013, it might have to compete for time periods with another series with Cleveland in the name – The Cleveland Show, the animated Family Guy spin-off from Twentieth Television is expected to hit syndication in 2013 as well. Unlike Hot in Cleveland, which is actually based in Cleveland, The Cleveland Show is based in a fictional town in Virginia and the title comes from the name of the show’s character, Cleveland Brown.