Syndication may come up with some great solutions



If the WGA strike drags on towards midseason, it might be a boon for cable (we discussed last week) and syndication, as the networks may need to dip into their content to fill programming voids. As well, advertisers are going to be looking at syndicated product as an alternative, a more stable vehicle.
"We should do well," said one syndicator. "It will be interesting to see what happens once they start preempting their regularly scheduled programs, whether or not the advertisers will accept the make-good programming. What happens if they preempt Desperate Housewives and run a reality show? As a buyer, do you take the make-goods or do you look at your alternatives?"

Maybe that’s not the audience they want to reach, maybe the demos are completely different.

Right now the networks have stockpiled scripts and are looking at reality and movie titles. In speaking to syndicators off the record, the reality is whatever make-goods or replacement programming the offering had better be satisfactory. It will be tough to get the same ratings that were bought in the upfront. Proven syndicated ratings winners include Wheel, Jeopardy, Millionaire and Family Feud for older demos; to reach Women, proven shows include Entertainment Tonight, Insider and Access Hollywood. Reach dual demos would require the off net sitcoms like Seinfeld, Friends, Raymond, 70’s Show. If the networks wanted a younger dual demo (18-34), Family Guy, South Park, Malcolm in the Middle and King of The Hill come to mind.

Syndicators are also already starting to look at turnkey, themed programming packages they could offer to networks. Syndicators have a whole library of products, that if properly hyped could really get some viewership. Ratings guarantees would probably be necessary to get advertiser interest, but nonetheless, it would be a blast from the past. "Back to 1991 night." "Back to McGuyver night." Or grab some of the best episodes ever made from shows many may have never heard of-"Flying Blind," "Strangers with Candy," "The Young Ones." Ironically, the networks may end up playing a lot of content that has already been licensed to online video sites like AOL or Yahoo.