WGN America Grabs 'Elementary' in Cable Exclusive

Tribune’s cable network, WGN America, has acquired CBS’ Elementary in a deal that's exclusive to cable.

SVOD and broadcast deals are still in the works, but when all is said and done the show is expected to reap a record-setting $3-plus million an episode, which would be the most ever by an off-broadcast drama, according to sources.

CBS is coming off of several big deals, including Tuesday's agreement to extend its licensing to Amazon Instant Prime. Late last October, CBS sold Showtime's Dexter to Netflix for approximately $1.8 million an episode.

No premiere date has been determined, but it won’t debut on WGN America until three seasons of the show have aired on the network. Season three of Elementary, which stars Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu, debuts on CBS this fall.

Elementary is a smart, high-quality series that has been a strong performer for CBS since it premiered,” said Scott Koondel, CBS Corp.’s chief corporate licensing officer, who orchestrated the deal as well as the Amazon extension and the sale of Dexter. “We’re confident it will be the latest in CBS’s deep pipeline of dramas to make its mark in off-network cable syndication as well.”

Elementary is a first-rate drama and terrific addition to the lineup of compelling content that is redefining WGN America,” said Matt Cherniss, president and general manager of Tribune Studios, in a statement. “It’s a perfect complement to our recent off-network acquisition, Person of Interest, and we’re excited to be the exclusive syndicated home for this great show.”

In its second season on CBS, Elementary is averaging 12 million viewers and is ranked fourth among all primetime programs in live-plus-seven viewer lift, averaging a 4.15 million viewer increase over its live plus same day average. Elementary is produced by CBS Television Studios and executive produced by Rob Doherty, Carl Beverly, Sarah Timberman and Craig Sweeny.

Paige Albiniak

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.