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GSN announces 'The Amazing Race' syndication deal, daily repeats to begin July 11


By Reality TV World staff, 06/09/2005 

Confirming earlier reports and continuing a busy month for reality TV syndication, GSN announced Wednesday that it has acquired the off-network syndication rights to CBS's Emmy-winning The Amazing Race reality series.

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The deal (negotiated with King World, the CBS-owned distributor that's handled the syndication of the series), gives GSN the rights to the first eight editions of the series, as well as options for two additional editions. "The Amazing Race is perfect for our network," stated Ian Valentine, GSN's senior vice president of programming. "It offers everything that our network stands for -- competition, adventure, terrific production values, good storylines and great characters. We couldn't be more thrilled to be the year-round home of this award-winning series."

"We are pleased that the one-of-a-kind adventures offered by The Amazing Race have found a second home on GSN, stated series executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer. "We have received an outpouring of responses from our viewers that they would love to see the series again and we have many fans who came to the series after its beginning. The Amazing Race on GSN will satisfy both groups and hopefully bring in new fans."

While the financial terms of the deal weren't publicly disclosed, according to Daily Variety, the deal is a four-year licensing agreement that calls for GSN to pay $55,000 for each the reality franchise's 110 episodes, a fee that would make the deal worth $6 million. "[It was] more expensive than we expected but worth every cent," stated GSN president Rich Cronin during a conference call announcing the acquisition. "More and more people discover and love the show every season it's aired. That growing enthusiasm really cemented the value of the program for GSN," said Valentine.

GSN will begin airing The Amazing Race episodes daily at 9PM ET beginning on Monday, July 11. Beginning with the first episode of the first season, GSN will broadcast The Amazing Race episodes Monday through Sunday, with the episodes also repeating at midnight on every night but Fridays (when the network airs its Casino Night programming.)

According to Variety, seasons one through five will air beginning in July, with seasons six and seven premiering in September. GSN will broadcast The Amazing Race 8, which CBS will air as part of its Fall 2005 schedule, in 2006.

"We believe this show is a game-changer for GSN," Valentine told Variety. "It's one of the highest-quality shows on TV... and it's a building hit on CBS. Season seven was more successful than season one, which was also very successful."

GSN is no stranger to reality TV -- in addition to its own original American Dream Derby series, the network has previously acquired the rights to smaller reality series including NBC's Average Joe and Dog Eat Dog and ABC's The Mole -- however The Amazing Race deal is seen as a possible huge boon to the small network, exposing it to countless new viewers. According to Variety, last year's Game Show Network-to-GSN relaunch largely fizzled, with the network improving its younger viewer numbers but only averaging 306,000 primetime viewers during Q1 2005.

The Amazing Race might not have the ratings power of its fellow CBS reality series, however that might actually be considered a "plus" from a syndication perspective. While Survivor has been a smash hit ratings success since its first season, The Amazing Race wasn't so lucky. Debuting the week before 9/11, the critically-acclaimed worldwide race series drew mediocre ratings during its first two Fall 2001 and Spring 2002 seasons. After The Amazing Race 3 showed no improvement in Fall 2002, CBS yanked the series from its midseason schedule, demoted it to summer programming status, and ran The Amazing Race 4 in Summer 2003.

The Amazing Race 4's ratings remained anemic despite airing in CBS's plum Thursdays at 8PM Survivor time period -- prompting even CBS chief Les Moonves to publicly express doubt that a fifth The Amazing Race edition would be produced. However, just when its future looked bleakest, the Emmy's came riding to The Amazing Race's rescue, announcing that the show had become only the second reality show ever (after Survivor) to win an Emmy award. Shortly thereafter, CBS ordered a fifth edition of the series and, although The Amazing Race 5 didn't air until Summer 2004, the series finally broke out and became a surprise ratings hit. Combined with the show's second straight Emmy win, the unexpected development caused CBS to cancel its plans to air subsequent editions of the series as Saturday night filler and instead return the series to its weeknight fall and spring primetime programming lineup. Once there, the resurgent series performed well, with its just-completed seventh edition setting series ratings records and confirming the program's status as a bonfide hit.

As a result of its various struggles, its speculated that The Amazing Race might perform surprisingly well in syndication, with many newer Race viewers using the syndication broadcasts as an opportunity to get their first look at the show's earlier seasons (which unlike Survivor, are also not yet available for DVD purchase -- although Season 1 is scheduled for a September 2005 DVD release.)

(Photo credit CBS)


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