TV Guide Network Gains Exclusive Cable Rights To 'Ugly Betty'

TV Guide Network has acquired exclusive basic-cable syndication rights to ABC Studios' popular comedy series Ugly Betty, the network announced Wednesday.

The deal gives TV Guide Network access to all past, current and future episodes of the three-year old ABC series - the network's first major programming move for the network's new owners Lionsgate and One Equity Partners.

TV Guide Network will look to be very active in the off-network syndication market as it looks to evolve the network into a major entertainment destination, Ryan O'Hara, president of TV Guide Network told Multichannel News.

"We're excited - it's a big move for us," O'Hara said. "It shows that our new owners want to invest in our network."

Under the terms of the deal, TV Guide Network, beginning in October, will repurpose episodes of the comedy series starring America Ferrera and Vanessa Williams, two weeks after airing on ABC, as well as stream up to five episodes at a time online. The network will also be able to strip existing and future episodes of Ugly Betty, beginning in fall 2010.

"What we liked about Ugly Betty is that it's a show that fans love and critics love," he said. "We think it fits with our brand, and it gives us an immediate pop in product within the repurpose window and it gives us a great deal of stability every night in prime time once the strip starts."

O'Hara said the network is exploring other off-network and syndication product to acquire, although he would not reveal specifics.

"We're incredibly busy looking at original production ideas and content as well as acquisition content," he said. "This is the first step in a well-thought through plan."

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.