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[04/14/03 - 12:00 AM]
NBC Renews 'Fear Factor,' Syndication Deal Looms
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- Endemol's "Fear Factor" will continue to gross-out audiences for another season as NBC has picked up the reality series for a fourth season. At least 30 new episodes will be produced when production resumes next month.

The renewal marks the final year in the Peacock's current licensing agreement with Endemol for the series. NBC will pay about $800,000 per episode for "Fear Factor's" fourth season, significantly less than it pays for most of its comedies and dramas. And considering "Fear Factor" delivers better numbers than many of NBC's programs, Endemol hopes to cash in when NBC tries to renew the series for a fifth season. If a deal can't be reached, Endemol is more than willing to shop the program elsewhere however NBC has the right to match any offer.

Unlike most reality series, "Fear Factor" is not owned or produced under the umbrella of the network that airs it. Usually reality series are produced in-house at a network with a license fee usually covering the full cost of producing the show. Such an arrangement ensures the network has no risk in going forward with the series as it simply can order episodes at will. That not being the case with "Fear Factor," NBC might have to dig a little deeper to keep the series, which currently ranks seventh among all NBC programs in adults 18-49.

Various sources have suggested NBC Enterprises, NBC's syndication arm, is looking to package the series for a syndicated run as early as fall 2004. Such a deal could be used to help offset a substantial increase in its license fee to Endemol. To date over 100 episodes of "Fear Factor" have been produced and unlike most reality programs, performs well in repeats. Those two characteristics make syndication an attractive option.





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