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'Hawaii Five-0' could become the next billion-dollar franchise for CBS

May 3, 2011 |  6:43 pm

"Hawaii Five-0" books 'em for CBS. 

Profits, that is.

The sun-drenched remake of "Hawaii Five-O," starring Alex O'Laughlin and Scott Caan, can boast something few first-season scripted TV shows can: It is already on track to turn a profit. 

On a conference call with analysts regarding first quarter results Tuesday, CBS Corp. Chief Executive Leslie Moonves said the company will rake in nearly $5 million an episode with the sale of the show's reruns to Time Warner Inc.'s TNT channel, in addition to license fees paid by foreign broadcasters. Foreign revenue, he said, amounts to $2.5 million an episode.

Hawaiifiveo "This is only 'Hawaii Five-0''s first year and it’s already on its way to being another billion-dollar franchise for us, joining 'NCIS' and 'CSI,' which both remain strong on our network," Moonves said.

Broadcast license fees rarely cover the cost to produce a scripted show, so most TV series do not recognize a profit until the third or fourth season when rerun deals are traditionally negotiated. But in recent years, cable channels have been bidding on promising new network shows right out of the gate. That gives networks such as CBS a greater incentive to produce and own their content.

NBCUniversal's USA Network clinched a deal to buy reruns of "NCIS: Los Angeles" after just six original episodes had aired on CBS, Moonves said. TNT bought "Hawaii Five-O" half-way through the current TV season.

"Quality premium hours are very tough to come by and there’s a bidding war for these types of things," Moonves explained. "The marketplace is very strong both internationally, which continues to grow, as well as domestically.  If you have the right kind of [programs] that aren’t serialized, that have an action component, you can get these kind of numbers. So it’s a great business."

CBS posted revenue of $3.51 billion and net earnings of $202 million in the first quarter. The results surpassed expectations.

-- Meg James

Photo: "Hawaii Five-0" stars Alex O'Laughlin, left, and Scott Caan. Credit: Mario Perez / CBS 

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