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Spike Outbid FX For Shield

Spike TV outbid FX for the cable rerun rights to off-network episodes of a series that put the Fox basic cable network on the map, Sony’s The Shield.

FX wanted the series, but with that cable net choosing to allocate most of its programming budget to original cable fare—it is debuting four new series this summer—it chose not to match a winning off-net bid from Spike, sources say.

The deal reportedly will have male-oriented Spike (which has the right to strip The Shield, i.e. run it daily) playing the male-skewing show only once a week beginning in March.

The duration of its contract is said to be dependent on the life of the series, which FX has renewed for a fifth season with another 13-episode commitment.

Tribune, meanwhile, has obtained the broadcast rights to The Shield under a two-year, all-barter weekend deal starting in September 2006.

The Spike pact marks the first time reruns of a key series have gone from one basic cable network to another, which provides a third back-end revenue stream to basic cable program suppliers like Sony beyond international and DVDs.

Sources estimate the Spike cash license fees and seven minutes of national broadcast ad time Sony retains should net the studio in the mid-six figure range per episode.

That is far less than other closed-ended hours coming off broadcast networks, which also don’t have to contend with R-rated content like The Shield. The series picked up a best supporting actress Emmy nod last week for cast addition Glenn Close.