UPN, Home Of Voyager... And Vampires?By Amy
February 28, 2001 - 9:48 PM
The world’s favourite vampire slayer could soon find herself and her Scooby Gang temporarily homeless – and then possibly on the current home of Star Trek, UPN. Just a single day away from losing exclusive renegotiating rights for its second-highest-rated series 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer', rival network WB continues to hesitate ad bicker, potentially throwing the door open to a number of new suitors.
The problem, basically, comes down to price. WB is said to be currently offering around $1.6 per episode to retain the broadcast rights for 'Buffy'’, up around $600,000 from what’s presently paid. It’s also reported that 20th Century Fox wants rather more – in the region of $2.3 to $2.5 million, enough to cover production costs and provide a nice little pocket filler. This is more than was paid in a similar deal to buy WB’s current highest rating show, '7th Heaven'.
While matters were recently complicated somewhat by series lead Sarah Michelle Gellar’s highly publicized threats to walk if the show went to any network but WB, she’s since backed down, declaring she’d stay with 'Buffy' no matter where it wound up. So now, if WB makes no acceptable bid, Fox can feel free to shop around the show to the highest bidder without running the risk of losing its largest draw. It’s worth noting, however, that WB will have a chance to match or top the first offer made by any of its competitors if they don’t renew now.
And UPN’s chances of acquiring the show if WB folds on the deal? What exactly they’d be willing to offer for the show isn’t known, but odds are they’d be willing to accept a loss financially in return for the new viewers and prestige acquisition of ‘Buffy’ would bring. Production costs for Star Trek: Voyager, which currently rates around the 3/5 share range, are around the two-million mark per episode, though what UPN actually pays for it isn’t known. Buffy, at the moment, is rating slightly more, coming in with a 3.4/5 to ‘Workforce’s 3.0/5.
With Voyager leaving the air this year and UPN looking to find a successful replacement for it’s second highest rating show, especially after the dismal failure so far of the XFL, it’s safe to say that rumours that they’ll be in the running if the show comes up for sale are true. After all, it fits their target demographic nicely and no doubt their publicity and promo department would be thrown into fits of rapture at the thought of hosting the next 'Slayerfest'.