The current TV environment is being widely hailed as a new “Golden Age of Television,” with a proliferation of acclaimed shows across broadcast, cable and digital platforms. But the scenario is bad for business in off-network syndication, which has traditionally been one of the industry’s most profitable segments.
“Reruns are under pressure because cable networks, which have been the deep-pocketed buyers of old shows, are making more original series to stand out in the crowd,” Bloomberg reports.
The Bloomberg analysis notes that the number of shows airing reruns on cable has been dropping — from 159 in 2013 to 128 last year, based on Nielsen data — while the number of original series on basic cable has surged — from 70 in 2010 to 181 last year.
“Time Warner’s Turner unit, owner of the TBS and TNT cable channels — comfortable retirement homes for recycled network series including ‘Friends,’ ‘Seinfeld’ and ‘Law & Order’ — will boost its original programming by 80 percent by 2018 as ratings for its reruns weaken,” Bloomberg notes.
As audiences increasingly steer clear of cable repeats in favor of original programming, the report also cites this stark example: “The cable network WGN America paid more than $1 million per episode for reruns of ‘Elementary’ and ‘Person of Interest.’ Both dramas drew an average of 10 million to 12 million viewers in their debut seasons on CBS, but last season neither got more than 260,000 viewers on WGN. Earlier this year, WGN’s parent, Tribune Media, took a $74 million charge after those shows failed to win audiences.”
We encourage readers to click on the link to Bloomberg near the top of this story to read the full analysis.