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Lifetime Wins Bidding for 'Grey’s’

For Lifetime Television, the syndication fare keeps coming, as the women’s-targeted service has gained exclusive basic-cable rights to Grey’s Anatomy, topping Turner Network Television and Oxygen.

The deal with Buena Vista Television, for a reported $1.2 million per episode, will enable Lifetime to begin stripping the ABC show, created by Touchstone Television, in fall 2009. Lifetime will also begin running episodes from the first season once per week in January 2007.

“We’re very happy. Grey’s Anatomy is an unbelievably well-written series that has been the No. 1 show against women 18 to 49,” said Leslie Glenn-Chesloff, senior vice president of acquisitions, Lifetime scheduling and planning.

Glenn-Chesloff said it had not yet been decided whether the weekly airing will take place on weekends or weeknights. The deal holds no daypart restrictions.

As part of the negotiations, TNT was after daytime rights, while Oxygen was eyeing the early weekly run, plus primetime stripping windows.

Executives familiar with the six-week negotiating process, said Oxygen had worked out many deal points, including VOD rights, before Lifetime swooped in with a last-minute offer — including an obligation to pick up as many as 200 installments — that kept the show in the family. Touchstone and Buena Vista are both owned by The Walt Disney Co., which controls half of Lifetime.

The Buena Vista deal, though, doesn’t afford Lifetime streaming rights to Anatomy, according to Glenn-Chesloff.

Streaming rights were part of the packages that Warner Bros. Domestic Cable Distribution recently inked with Tribune Broadcasting stations and FX, which have picked up the CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men, beginning in 2007 and 2010, respectively.

Lifetime also has secured the rights for $500,000 per installment to Desperate Housewives, the No. 2 show among women 18 to 49. The show will begin airing once a week on Saturday nights at 11 p.m. on Aug. 5. Glenn-Chesloff said Housewives, which can be stripped in 2008, and Anatomy “could run together” the following year.

Elsewhere, NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution and NBC owned-and-operated stations WNBC-TV and KNBC-TV in New York and Los Angeles and Fox O&O WLFD-TV in Chicago inked barter deals for weekend runs on USA Network stalwart Monk, beginning in 2008. USA earlier this year secured strip rights to Monk in 2008.