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It is always sunny in Philadelphia as reruns of FX comedy go for big bucks

October 20, 2009 |  3:57 pm

It just got a little sunnier in Philadelphia.

No, we're not talking about the Phillies being on the verge of making the World Series for the second year in a row. News Corp.'s Twentieth Television has just sold reruns of the FX sitcom "It's Always Sunny in Philadephia" to Viacom's Comedy Central for roughly $400,000 per episode plus some commercial inventory, people familiar with the deal say.

SUNNYPHILLIE For a cable comedy, that is a pretty healthy price tag. Throw in the commercial time and the value of the deal could end up being being north of $700,000 per episode for Twentieth Television and the creative team behind the show. Of course, that is also dependent on the economy and what is happening in the advertising market when Comedy Central starts running the show.

While the $400,000 cash part of the deal still pales compared with what a hit comedy in broadcast television can get in rerun sales (Lifetime paid Twentieth Television about $800,000 per episode for reruns of "How I Met Your Mother"), the gap is definitely narrowing.

Furthermore, the cost of producing an episode of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" is nowhere near what a typical episode of "How I Met Your Mother" or NBC Universal's "30 Rock" runs, meaning that the little sitcom that could -- which is off to a strong start this season -- could end up turning a very nice profit.

While FX looked at buying the reruns, Twentieth Television, by selling to Comedy Central, doesn't have to worry about any producers thinking it cut a sweetheart deal within the company. That has been a problem in the past, as actors Alan Alda and David Duchovny and producer Steven Bochco sued News Corp. claiming just that over rerun sales of "M*A*S*H," "The X-Files" and "NYPD Blue," respectively, from Twentieth to FX.

-- Joe Flint

Photo: FX's "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." Credit: Craig Blankenhorn / FX

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