Lifetime Meets CBS’s 'Mother’

Fortifying its off-network roster, Lifetime has gained exclusive cable rights to the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother, beginning in 2010.

The multiyear deal with Twentieth Television will enable cable’s leading women’s network to strip the show weekdays in primetime in the fall of 2010, while also giving it the right to a pair of weekly encore plays from the show’s first three seasons, starting early next year.

Deal terms were not disclosed, but published reports put Lifetime’s outlay at around $82 million for 110 episodes — the show’s first five seasons. Should CBS continue to renew the series, Twentieth will tack on additional seasons to Lifetime’s deal through eight campaigns. Thereafter, the parties would have to renegotiate the pact.

A number of cable networks, including TBS, Comedy Central, ABC Family and FX, were said to be in the bidding for the series, which began its fourth season on CBS Sept. 22. Twentieth also retains a trio of 30-second barter spots in the Lifetime runs.

According to sources familiar with the negotiations, Lifetime will be able to strip the show, starring Neil Patrick Harris, Josh Radnor, Jason Segal and Alyson Hannigan, in primetime. However, it will not be able to run opposite CBS’s airings; Black Rock currently schedules the show Monday at 8:30 p.m.

Lifetime is not permitted to run the pair of weekly encore showings, starting next year, in primetime, according to sources familiar with the agreement.

How I Met Your Mother is a perfect fit for the new direction of our comedy programming,” said Lifetime Networks executive vice president of entertainment JoAnn Alfano in a statement. “This is a truly hilarious and genuine water-cooler show, with sharp writing and a talented cast. It will be a fantastic addition to our 2010 schedule.”

Lifetime’s current off-network lineup includes dramas Desperate Housewives and Grey’s Anatomy, as well as comedies Reba, Will & Grace and Frasier.

Although it will have cable exclusivity, Lifetime won’t be alone in presenting the show in syndication. Twentieth has struck deals with the Fox owned-and-operated stations in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, as well as CBS O&Os in Philadelphia, Boston and Dallas.

Twentieth also inked a pact with Hearst-Argyle Television’s KQCA in Sacramento, the My9Network affiliate.

Station time slots have not yet been determined, but they will likely run the show in late-fringe or access, according to sources.