E! Online reports that NBC has renewed its reality hit Fear Factor for three more years. The contract between show producer Endemol (which also produces CBS's Big Brother) and NBC was set to expire at the end of the upcoming season, but it will now extend until May 2007. The deal also grants NBC exclusive syndication rights, so that NBC will be able to sell the rerun rights to the show.
The deal is actually structured as a one-year contract extension - meaning that NBC would then have the five seasons of production necessary to sell the show for "stripping" (daily runs in syndication) - followed by two network options for the sixth and seventh season. Unlike most reality series, Fear Factor has drawn a decent audience in network reruns, so the syndication rights have value. NBC hopes to receive up to $400,000 per show for the rights.
In return, NBC has increased its payout per new episode. Under the expiring contract, NBC pays Endemol $900,000 per show this year. For next year, the rights fee will rise to between $1.25 and $1.5 million per show ... and the rights fee for the final two years, if NBC exercises its option for them, will be $1.7 to $2.0 million per show, double the current fee.
NBC entertainment president Jeff Zucker says that "Fear Factor has been one of the huge reality successes of the past couple of seasons, and it's one of the most underestimated shows in all of television." He's right, of course -- because, despite its high ratings, reality-show fans generally place Fear Factor and its host, Joe Rogan, near the bottom of the heap in quality and interest. Nevertheless, the show has a devoted audience ... especially among purveyors of "edible" insects.