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Viacom Announces Syndication Deal for ‘Cosby’

October 17, 1986

NEW YORK (AP) _ ″The Cosby Show,″ television’s top-rated program, is about family, love and laughter - and about a whole bale of money as the bidding starts for rights to the reruns.

″We are looking for the highest price we can achieve for the product,″ Joseph D. Zaleski, president for Domestic Syndication, Viacom Enterprises, told a news conference Thursday as he announced the start of bidding.

″The Cosby Show″ will be auctioned in one market at a time, beginning Oct. 26 in New York, the nation’s biggest market. The first syndicated episodes will air in September 1988.

Zaleski did not say what Viacom expects to earn from Cosby, but outside observers have estimated the show is worth $2.5 million to $3 million per episode in syndication.

Initial bids will be based on the production of 130 episodes, or five seasons, with automatic extensions to eight seasons if the show stays in production that long.

In addition to the money received for syndication rights, Viacom will retain 1 minute of the 6 1/2 minutes of commercial time available with the show for national sale, Zaleski said.

NBC gets $380,000 for a 30-second spot on ″Cosby,″ Zaleski said, but ″we believe our price will be somewhat less than that.″

At a cocktail party and news conference at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on Thursday, Viacom unveiled a promotional video which proclaimed ″The Cosby Factor: Profit From It.″

The phenomenal show was the third-highest rated program in its initial season in 1984-85, then was No. 1 last season and No. 1 in the first three weeks of the new fall season.

″Cosby″ has been the top-rated show in its time period for 107 consecutive weeks, Viacom said, driving six ABC series off the air and shoving CBS’s ″Magnum, PI″ from Thursday to Wednesday. Repeat episodes of ″Cosby″ routinely beat first-run competition.

The family-oriented show stars Bill Cosby as Dr. Heathcliffe Huxtable, who runs his obstetrical practice from his home in New York.

The series also stars Phylicia Rashad as Clair Huxtable and Lisa Bonet, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Tempestt Bledsoe and Keshia Knight Pulliam as the kids. Sabrina Le Beauf appears occasionally as the eldest daughter, who is in college.

The shows which follow Cosby Thursday nights on NBC - ″Family Ties,″ ″Cheers″ and ″Night Court″ - are consistently in the top 10, thanks in large part to the huge audiences for ″The Cosby Show.″

Viacom syndicates several other classic television series, including ″I Love Lucy,″ ″The Honeymooners,″ ″The Dick Van Dyke Show″ and ″The Mary Tyler Moore Show.″