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Report: GSN finalizing syndication deal for CBS's 'The Amazing Race'


By Reality TV World staff, 06/01/2005 

On the same day that Outdoor Life Network announced that it has reached a syndication deal for the first ten episodes of CBS's Survivor, industry trade papers have reported that GSN (the former Game Show Network) is in final negotiations to pick up the cable rights for the Tiffany network's other big reality series -- The Amazing Race.

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According to both Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, neither GSN or King World (the CBS-owned distributor that's handling the syndication of the series) would comment on the possible deal, but if completed it is expected to include the rights to all seven seasons of the series that CBS has broadcast to date.

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 should the deal go through, The Amazing Race could be a 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.)

According to Reality TV World sources, should the deal go through, GSN is expected to begin airing The Amazing Race reruns as soon as this summer.

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