CBS' acclaimed legal drama "The Good Wife" will have multiple partners in syndication.
Reruns of the Sunday night program, which stars Julianna Margulies, have been sold by CBS to Amazon's Prime Instant Video platform as well as the Hallmark Channel and local TV stations. Hulu Plus, the subscription arm of the online video service, will also get episodes as part of a previous deal with CBS.
The unique agreement could mean an even longer life on CBS for "The Good Wife," which wraps up its fourth season next month.
Typically, reruns are sold to one buyer. Because "The Good Wife" is not a ratings hit and has an older audience, finding one buyer to shell out a substantial amount of cash for it was unlikely. Rerun sales are crucial to the makers of TV shows because that is where the profits come from.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but a person familiar with the matter estimated that CBS could ultimately end up collecting close to $2 million per episode for the repeats.
That is less than what CBS got for other dramas it makes, such as "NCIS: Los Angeles " and "Hawaii Five-O," both of which were sold for well over $2 million per episode. However, those shows are known as procedural dramas in which each episode is self-contained. "The Good Wife" is serialized and typically a procedural is worth more in syndication.
But serialized dramas such as "The Good Wife" have proved to be popular among users of online subscription services such as Netflix and Amazon, both of which have shown a big appetite for them. Netflix, for example, paid about $800,000 per episode for rights to AMC's "Mad Men."
Prime Instant will get first crack at the show, with episodes from the first three seasons being made available this week. Hulu Plus will get access to "The Good Wife" in the fall. The Hallmark Channel will carry the show in January 2014, and local stations will get episodes in the fall of 2014.
The rerun sale of "The Good Wife" will likely guarantee that the show will return for a fifth season this fall, and it could even lead to additional seasons beyond that.