TV Guide Channel to Air VH1 Celebreality

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Looking to boost its Nielsen fortunes with young viewers, TV Guide Channel acquired the rights to a host of VH1 celebreality fare from Debmar/Mercury.

The multiyear distribution deal, terms of which were not disclosed, gives TV Guide Channel cable and satellite exclusivity to the so-called Surreal TV collection, comprising The Surreal Life, Flavor of Love, My Fair Brady, Strange Love, I Love New York and Flavor of Love Charm School through 2010.

Beginning in July, the network’s initial game plan calls for it to: strip the series, beginning with the first two seasons of The Surreal Life weeknights at 10 p.m.; encore those episodes at 1 a.m.; and then marathon what was shown during the week on Saturday night, according to a network spokeswoman.

All told, TV Guide officials said, the package comprises more than 135 episodes and 100 hours of programming: seasons 1-7 of The Surreal Life; seasons one and two of My Fair Brady and Flavor of Love; and the additional collection of spinoffs including Strange Love, Fame Games (Surreal Life All-Stars), I Love New York -- which just aired its reunion show Sunday night -- and Flavor of Love Charm School, which followed the New York finale.

“Celebreality series The Surreal Life, Flavor of Love and My Fair Brady are TV-ratings winners and hugely popular with younger audiences,” TV Guide Channel president Ryan O’Hara said in a prepared statement. “Acquiring the exclusive cable and satellite rights to The Surreal Life series and spinoffs 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.”

Debmar/Mercury acquired The Surreal Life family of shows from 51 Minds Entertainment and Mindring Productions in August 2006 in a deal giving it all domestic cable- and network-television syndication-distribution rights.

The company is currently trying to sell the series to broadcast stations, according to a TV Guide spokeswoman.