Fox Buys 'TMZ Live' for Entire Group

As expected, the Fox Television Stations will expand TMZ Live across all 17 of its stations this fall, according to Ken Werner, president of Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution and Frank Cicha, senior VP, programming, Fox Television Stations.

B&C first reported that the deal was pending on Monday.

"TMZ Live turns the traditional syndication model on its head," said Cicha in a statement. "This is a vibrant, day-and-date first run program that isn't beholden to 80% US coverage or an NTI. If it gets there at some point, great, but in the meantime the ratings and business model suggest FTS, Warner Bros. and anyone else who clears it, will succeed immediately."

"The distribution roll-out of TMZ Live is as unconventional and unique as the show itself," said Werner, also in a statement. "What incubated online expanded to one television market, then two, seven and now 17. This slow approach has translated into a strong and loyal daily audience, time period increases and younger demos. It's also created a demand in the markets where the series does not yet air."

Harvey Levin, TMZ's creator and executive producer, launched TMZ Live three years ago as an online extension of the popular Web site and entertainment magazine, TMZ. Last March, Fox started airing the show on KTTV Los Angeles, and then added KSAZ Phoenix in June. In October, the group tried the show in five other markets - Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit and Minneapolis - and saw solid ratings across the board, and especially on WJBK Detroit.

The show features TMZ producers and reporters sitting in the newsroom and chatting at their desks about the stories of the day, giving lots of juicy tidbits and strong opinions about the latest celebrity break-up or arrest.

This fall, Fox will begin airing the show in its remaining ten markets, which include the nation's top market, where the show will air on WNYW, as well as in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Houston, Tampa and Orlando.

With Fox set as the launch group and with the show sold in the top-five markets -- New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and Dallas -- Warner Bros. now will offer the show out to the rest of the country, although it doesn't require national coverage in order to be viable like most first-fun syndicated programs.

According to Warner Bros.: "Looking to Fall 2013 and beyond, WBDTD will strategically sell the show outside of the FOX markets as appropriate opportunities present themselves for strong time periods and licenses fees."

TMZ Live is the rare show that is being offered for all cash, with 15 minutes in each show for local commercials. Those deal terms should make TMZ Live an attractive acquisition, because once stations clear the show, all of the advertising revenue remains with the station.

"TMZ Live is a truly distinctive and entertaining take on the daily talk show. It is what TMZ does best, offering a topical, fast-paced and viewer interactive format with a fun and honest point of view on the stories people are talking about," said Hilary Estey McLoughlin, president of Telepictures.

"TMZ Live has been a work in progress for three years," said Levin. "We're trying to blend TV and the Internet by taking assets from both and seamlessly weaving them into a global conversation."

The entry of TMZ Live into the mix means that Warner Bros. now is offering two new first-run shows for fall 2013: TMZ Live and Bethenny, which is cleared in most of the country, including on the Fox stations, where it was tested last summer. Those shows join Sony's Queen Latifah, CTD's late-night entry, Arsenio Hall, and MGM's Paternity Court.

Paige Albiniak

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.