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Kidnapped May Get Its Ransom in the End

NBC may have pulled the plug on Kidnapped, but Sony Pictures Television (SPT), which produced the new drama, looks to be left in the black.

While closed-ended shows have to reach 75-100 episodes to recoup their investment in syndication, the serialized Kidnapped may have already done it in 13—and looks poised to profit.

SPT declines to comment, but according to our math, the studio has already recovered the estimated $40 million it spent producing the show, thanks to network license fees (traditionally half of production costs) and vigorous international sales.

The network may yet burn off the remainder of the 13 episodes, but Flash! hears that the studio is planning a Kidnapped DVD boxed set for fall 2007.

Industry analysts say producers need to sell 20,000-40,000 units (depending on marketing costs) to break even on DVDs. Buying at $19.95 a pop, just 1% of Kidnapped’s 4 million viewers at the time of its demise would have to spring for the DVD for the studio to come out even further ahead.

But that doesn’t mean the same plan will work for the other costly new serials that have failed to hook viewers this season—including SPT’s now-defunct Runaway on The CW.