"Seinfeld" is going off on NBC, but it will be on in a few years on KCOP-TV Channel 13.
The station surprised television insiders Friday by announcing it had purchased the second syndication cycle for the hit comedy, stealing "Seinfeld" from KTLA-TV Channel 5, which is currently showing the reruns.
The deal mirrors a recent agreement in New York, where a Fox station outbid the Tribune-owned station that now carries the reruns.
Chris-Craft Industries, which owns KCOP, and Columbia TriStar Television Distribution, which syndicates the series, declined comment on the deal, which involves 180 episodes of "Seinfeld" and will begin in 2001 after the current cycle expires.
But sources said that the purchase price was far above the $300,000 per week that WNYW-TV in New York reportedly paid in March to take the show away from WPIX.
Executives at KTLA downplayed the loss, saying, "We're very pleased with the current 'Seinfeld' deal that we have, and we look forward to three more years of 'Seinfeld' on KTLA."
The deal marks the first time that KCOP has purchased a series without exclusive rights in the market, sources said, meaning that "Seinfeld" might also be seen on a cable outlet here.
Laurey Barnett, executive vice president of Chris-Craft's television division, said that "Seinfeld" was worth the price despite the lack of exclusivity. "We made an exception in this case because 'Seinfeld' is a unique show and this is a special situation," Barnett said. "There is only one 'MASH,' and there is only one 'Seinfeld.' The show is an icon."
Barnett said it had not been determined what time period KCOP would run "Seinfeld."
Some industry officials have questioned the high prices being paid for the second cycle of "Seinfeld," noting that there is the possibility that its popularity will wane by the time the deal takes effect. But others say the comedy is the most valuable show in syndication and has improved the ratings for stations that broadcast the reruns.