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ANSWERED on Sat 2 Feb 2008 - 7:24 am UTC by Bobbie Sevens

Question: T.V. Show Licensing Fees

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 2 Feb 2008 05:19 UTCSat 2 Feb 2008 - 5:19 am UTC 


My question pertains to the licensing fees paid per episode of U.S. television shows. I am looking for two categories. First I'm interested in the licensing fees paid for network reality shows - such as "The Amazing Race", The Bachelor, etc. The other thing I'm looking for are the licensing fees paid to scripted television shows such as Desperate Housewives or CSI or The Ghost Whisperer.


Bobbie Sevens 


 2 Feb 2008 07:24 UTCSat 2 Feb 2008 - 7:24 am UTC 

Hello galileo8556 ,

Licensing fees per episode  for scripted and reality shows are as follows.

Scripted Shows

Dollhouse  - license fee in the range of US$1.5 million to US$2 million per episode.

"The Buffy the Vampire Slayer mastermind has just signed a deal with Fox to create a drama series called Dollhouse. Better yet, he's chosen a very familiar face to inhabit it: she of Faith fame, Eliza Dushku. The show, which boasts a seven-episode commitment for 2008 and a hefty license fee between $1.5 million and $2 million per ep, will chronicle the exploits of a group of individuals who are "imprinted with personality packages" — meaning that they can assume a variety of identities (language skills, physical talents, memories, etc.) to be used for all types of tasks."
Hollywood Insider: Oct 31, 2007

Mad Men - $1.5 million an episode license fee
"The renewal of "Mad Men" was anything but assured: AMC was paying record license fees of about $1.5 million an episode and averaged only 1 million viewers."
Variety Magazine: Setp. 21, 2007

Heroes  - license fee of $1.3 million per  episode
Deal or No Deal - license fee of $1 million
USA Today: Dec. 17, 2006

Lost -  $2 million per episode licensing fee
Joy Hog: October 6, 2007

The Sopranos - $2.5 million per episode licensing fee
"A&E management paid a  $2.5 million per episode licensing fee for “The Sopranos.”
Premium Hollywood: Jan 15, 2007

ER: $8 million or $9 million licensing fee
"Though Warner Bros. set a record six years ago with a $13 million per-episode licensing fee, the new deal will reportedly drop to $8 million or $9 million."
Media Life: March 2005

Studio 60 - $2 million an episode license fee
"Studio 60" costs about $3 million an episode to produce. NBC pays a license fee of about $2 million an episode -- high prices for a first-year show.
Wall Street Journal: Nov. 3, 2006

Law & Order:  Criminal Intent   - $1.92 million-per-episode license fee
"Even in its third incarnation, the "Law & Order" train isn't showing signs of slowing down. USA and Bravo ponied up a hefty $1.92 million-per-episode license fee--a basic-cable high at the time--for an exclusive split window to "Criminal Intent," the third edition in the franchise
Daily Variety,  January, 2006 

Eleventh Hour - license fee of roughly $1.75 million per episode
"Warner Brothers has made a multimillion dollar deal with CBS for the rights to a Jerry Bruckheimer-produced adaptation of British thriller Eleventh Hour. CBS has agreed to produce 13 episodes of the X-Files-like project and has agreed in advance to a pay-or-play license fee of roughly $1.75 million per episode. The project reunites the original CSI team of producer Bruckheimer and director Danny Cannon, adding in scribe Mick Davis."
The TV Remote: Sept 18, 2007

"According to trade figures, Third Watch earns $700,000 in license fees per episode in re-runs on A&E, The West Wing enjoys a $1.2 million fee and Without a Trace commands a hefty $1.35 million per episode. In return, the cable channel gets a high profile program that attracts new and old viewers, and increased advertising revenues.
Significant deals in recent months include Universal paying $1.9 million per episode for syndication rights to Law & Order: Criminal Intent, which will be aired on Universal-owned USA Network and Bravo; and Spike TV agreeing to dole out $1.9 million per episode for CSI: NY."
Video Age International : April, 2005 http://www.entrepreneur.com/tradejournals/article/133187054.html

CBS paid about $2 million an episode last year for the drama ''The District'' alone. For Saturday night this season it will pay about $1 million an episode for ''Amazing Race,'' and $900,000 or so for ''48 Hours.''
New York Times: June 21, 2004

"Networks such as NBC pay a licensing fee to studios for the right to air shows. For a licensing fee of about $1.8 million for a comedy and $2.5 million for a drama, networks get the right to air episodes twice -- an original and a repeat."
Wall Street Journal: March 9, 2007

Reality Shows

The Contender - up $2 million per episode licensing fee.

"NBC will cough up $2 million per episode for Mark Burnett, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Sylvester Stallone’s The Contender, making it the most expensive new reality TV show ever produced. An anonymous NBC exec tells the LA Times that with Burnett’s “track record, you are willing to pay a premium because this could potentially be a very lucrative business to be in, even at the high licensing fee we’re paying for an unscripted show.” ABC offered $1.5 million an episode, and FOX offered “nearly $2 million.” Reality Blurred: Feb. 23, 2004 http://www.realityblurred.com/realitytv/archives/the_contender/2004_Feb_23_at_2_million_an

License fees range from $500,000 to $3 million for reality shows

"Los Angeles County Sheriff’s will be part of two reality shows that have yet to be sold to a network. The Academy “would follow a number of cadets through training,” and The Assignment “would film the daily activities of deputies,” according to the AP. That is, they will if 44 Blue Productions can find an interested network now that the county has given approval. If sold, LA County will get “5 percent of the license fees once the shows are sold to a network. License fees range from $500,000 to $3 million,” the AP reports."
Reality Blurred: July 31, 2006 http://www.realityblurred.com/realitytv/archives/future_shows/2006_Jul_31_summer_announcements

American Idol - 18 million dollars licensing fee

"18 million dollars for the AI licensing fee. In 2009--yes the network and the Idol franchising partners have renewed sight unseen--the licensing fee will be $35.5 million."
Nightly Net Forum: 2006

$1 million an episode for ''Amazing Race,'' in 2004
New York Times: June 21, 2004

"Celeb-reality series The Surreal Life, Flavor of Love, and My Fair Brady are TV ratings winners and hugely popular with younger audiences," said Ryan O'Hara, president of TV Guide Channel. "Acquiring the exclusive cable and satellite rights to The Surreal Life series and spin-offs is an important part of our late-night strategy as we continue to expand programming on our network and deliver entertaining content for TV fans."

"The deal encompasses more than 135 episodes of the aforementioned shows and over 100 hours of programming.  TV Guide Channel paid approximately $6.7 million -- or a license fee of $50,000 an episode -- to Debmar/Mercury for three-year cable syndication rights to air the shows, according to Daily Variety.  In addition, TV Guide Channel will be the only cable and satellite network with rights to The Surreal Life family of shows through 2010."

Reality TV World: April 18, 2007

I hope the information provided is helpful!

Best regards,




 20 Feb 2008 06:21 UTCWed 20 Feb 2008 - 6:21 am UTC 

Fast and excellent answer!


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