Comedy Central has acquired off-network broadcast rights to NBC's Emmy-winning "30 Rock," several years ahead of the show's actual availability.

The cable network formally announced its multi-year deal with NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution on Wednesday (July 8), even though Comedy Central won't be able to begin airing "30 Rock" episodes until the fall of 2011.

"Pound-for-pound, '30 Rock' is one of the funniest shows on television and a perfect DNA match for our viewers," says David Bernath. "This is a tremendous acquisition for Comedy Central and we can't wait for Tina, Alec, Tracy and the rest of the gang to join our line-up in 2011."

Fort the record, the Comedy Central press release describes Bernath's title as "senior vice president, program strategies & microwave programming for Comedy Central." We just didn't want you to miss out on any of the release's little jokes.

The Comedy Central deal gives the cable network access to the first five seasons of "30 Rock," with the minor catch being that "30 Rock" won't launch its fourth season until this fall and hasn't actually been renewed for a fifth season yet. But that's only a minor catch given both the state of NBC's ratings and the show's status as one of TV's most Emmy-decorated comedies and a solid performer in the key 18-49 demo.

"This sitcom fits the Comedy Central brand perfectly and I applaud the network's vision and ability to recognize '30 Rock' is a comedy still on the rise," says Frances Manfredi, NBC Universal's executive vice president/general sales manager, cable and non-theatrical sales. "We believe '30 Rock' will thrive in the Comedy Central environment."

Last year's Emmy wins for "30 Rock" included trophies for stars Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin, as well as the Outstanding Comedy Series prize.

"30 Rock" returns to NBC on October 15.