In Depth

Syndication Fantasy: ‘Seeker’ Renewed

Tribune Stations Buy in for Weekend First-Run Drama

Disney-ABC Domestic Television’s “Legend of the Seeker” will continue for another season, as Tribune Broadcasting’s owned stations have renewed the weekend drama.

The sale means the first-run fantasy-adventure hour has been cleared in 35% of the country and seven of the top 10 markets for the 2009-10.

“‘Legend of the Seeker,’ the No. 1 new first-run syndicated show of the 2008-09 season, has proven to be a great fit for our Tribune launch group,” Janice Marinelli, president of Disney-ABC Domestic Television, said in a statement.

“We’re enormously pleased with their confidence in this exciting new scripted hour and we look forward to continuing our successful partnership with them into ‘Seeker’s’ second season,” she said.

“We are thrilled with Disney’s commitment to this production,” Sean Compton, senior vice president of programming at Tribune Broadcasting, said in a statement.

Chuck Larsen, president of television consulting company October Moon, said “Seeker’s” renewal may not necessarily signal a trend toward more first-run action hours in the future.

There was a glut of first-run hours nearly 15 years ago, but that well has run dry as weekend hours now are dominated by off-net programming. “Seeker” is the only nationally sold entrant in the first-run weekend programming genre.

Mr. Larsen said off-net programming is an easier sell as it already carries promotion, a built-in audience and no production costs.

Distributors are particularly wary about rolling out new projects during this time as cash-strapped stations wrangle with a tough economy, limiting local sales of new, untested product.

A show like “Seeker,” with its noticeably high production values, is a costlier project that is dependent on international sales to make up the difference, he said.

Season-to-date, “Seeker” is posting a 2.0 household rating average.

The show also is available online via Hulu.com. Episodes are available for purchase at the iTunes Store and via the Xbox Marketplace.

“Seeker” is produced by ABC Studios, marking its first entrance into broadcast syndication. The show is shot on location in New Zealand.