USA Locks Up Syndication Rights To 'NCIS: Los Angeles'


USA Network, already benefiting from the syndicated presence of NCIS, has garnered the rights to its spin-off.
Cable's top network has secured exclusive off-network rights to the NCIS: Los Angeles from CBS Television Distribution.
Under the agreement, terms of which were not disclosed, USA will be able to run weekly early exhibitions, beginning in September 2011. Two years later, the "characters network" will be able to begin stripping the series. Variety reports that USA paid some $2.5 million per episode, which approaches the record A&E paid for The Sopranos.
NCIS: Los Angeles ranks as the No. 1 new show in television this season, averaging 17 million watchers season to date. That total also makes it the No. 2 drama on TV, behind only its forebear, NCIS. That show is also the top off-network series on cable, averaging 3.5 million viewers for USA year to date.
NCIS: Los Angeles has improved its Tuesday  9 p.m. time slot -- previously occupied by The Mentalist, whose syndication rights were picked up by TNT -- by 7% in total viewers and 5% among adults 18 to 49, according to Nielsen data.
NCIS: Los Angeles orbits the world of the Office of Special Projects, a division of NCIS that is charged with apprehending dangerous and elusive criminals that pose a threat to the nation's security. Chris O'Donnell stars as special agent "G" Callen, a chameleon who infiltrates the criminal underworld. His partner Sam Hanna, played by LL Cool J, is a former U.S. Navy SEAL and a surveillance expert who uses state of the art monitoring equipment to look out for those in the field and feed them critical data.
"We're thrilled about this unprecedented opportunity to acquire a great show after just seven episodes of instant broadcast popularity," said Jane Blaney, USA executive vice president, program acquisitions and scheduling, in a statement. "NCIS: Los Angeles is the perfect complement to NCIS, which has performed amazingly well for USA as the year's No. 1 off-net series on cable."