'Schitt's Creek' keeps building, earns major syndication deal

Schitt’s Creek,” the cult comedy from cable network Pop about a rich family who lost it all and lives in a backwater town, has taken a major step into the mainstream as Fox Television Stations has won the syndication rights air the Emmy-nominated comedy.

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In a two-year deal with Linosgate’s Debnar-Mercury, all seasons of Schitt’s Creek will begin airing in U.S. broadcast markets beginning in September 2020.

Schitt’s Creek will enter syndication on Fox and other television stations throughout the country next fall with one of the most loyal and passionate fan bases on television,” said Debmar-Mercury Co-Presidents Ira Bernstein and Mort Marcus. “It is so rare to have a show like this that appeals equally to viewers, Emmy voters and critics – a testament to its extraordinary gifted cast and writing.”

Schitt’s Creek is the highest rated show on Pop, which is owned by CBS. Its ratings grew each season and, when it launched on Netflix, it really became popular.

“I love that Fox went after it because you have to do something as syndication is slipping,” Bill Hague, executive vice president of Frank N. Magid Associates’ Media Strategy Group, said. “There’s just a lack of quality sitcoms. We work closely with the CBC, and this is a great show off of their network, but nobody’s really seen it, so I think it’s really interesting. I think shows like this who haven’t had the wide distribution of a Big 4 network (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX) run, it will be interesting to see if it finds an audience, but I think it should.

Its expanding popularity on Netflix is similar to how “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation” was essentially new content to viewers on the streaming service after both shows had dismal ratings in their runs on NBC.

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“I think this opens the door to more deals like this – (shows from) smaller channels, streaming, and people putting them into domestic distribution," says Hague. "I honestly believe this the platinum age of television. There is so much great quality TV – sitcoms, dramas, documentaries – so, there’s all this great product out there, why shouldn’t it find its way back to local broadcast television? People will be curious. The marketing plan should be interesting, and I think people are hungry for a good situation comedy. There’s just nothing else out there; there’s nothing that’s popped since ‘The Big Bang Theory.’”

“Schitt’s Creek” returns for its sixth and final season on Pop TV and Canada’s CBC in January 2020, which will bring its episode count to 80, which is worthy of syndication in this era.

Hague sees the show being completed as an advantage for the show. “The windowing is interesting. It’s done this year, it will premiere next year; it will still be contemporary. You can binge it, you can DVR it.”

The comedy, which is produced by the Canadian network CBC and Pop, was created by and stars Eugene Levy and Daniel Levy. It follows the travails of a wealthy family who suddenly find themselves broke and forced to live in Schitt’s Creek, a small town they once bought for a laugh.

It centers on an outrageously wealthy video store magnate, Johnny Rose, played by Eugene Levy; his wife Moira, a former soap-star, who is played by Catherine O’Hara; and their two adult children – David, who calls himself the black sheep of the family (Daniel Levy) and career socialite Alexis (Annie Murphy).

With their luxurious lives in the past, they struggle to find jobs and relationships, and most importantly, figure out what it means to be a family in the makeshift but loveable town they’ve reluctantly come to call home.

"I honestly believe this the platinum age of television. There is so much great quality TV – sitcoms, dramas, documentaries – so, there’s all this great product out there, why shouldn’t it find its way back to local broadcast television? "

- Bill Hague, Executive Vice President, Magid

This syndication deal is coming on the heels of the show earning four Emmy nominations this year for Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for Eugene Levy, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for Catherine O’Hara and Outstanding Contemporary Costumes.

Frank Cicha, Executive Vice President of Programming for FOX Television Stations, said, “Program?  What program?  I thought Debmar was actually selling us the town!”

There will be a big opening for “Schitt’s Creek” to gain an audience in either the late-night window or, quite possibly, into daytime, where the offerings are mostly talk shows.

“Local TV, you know, we love local news, but there’s only so much news you can put on the air.” Hague said. “You’ve got to put something on there. Talk shows are having a tough time, game shows are having a tough time, and there’s nothing that’s real breakout, so the tried-and-true sitcom with a proven cast that hasn’t necessarily been seen everywhere, I think is really interesting."

This shows that programs can come full circle, that while streaming is the big thing now, television still reigns supreme.