The boxing gloves were out at the Summit, figuratively speaking, during the spirited syndication panel.
The Upfront Summit, sponsored jointly by TelevisionWeek and Advertising Age, its sister publication, was the last chance for buyers and sellers to spar publicly over the issues that will determine how dollars will flow into syndication, cable and broadcast this year.
“There are an enormous number of national advertisers who buy a tremendous amount of national cable and network television who don’t use syndication,” said Dick Robertson, president, Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution. “It is almost irresponsible as a national advertiser not to be using it,” he added, saying the syndicators were trying to educate agency planners, who tend to be young and inexperienced.
“Double runs, double barter, cable windows and so forth” add complications and “some confusion” to syndication buys, said Rino Scanzoni, president, broadcast division, Mediaedge:cia.
Syndication’s criticism of planners’ ignorance is a “bit of yesterday’s enchiladas,” said Jon Mandel, co-CEO, MediaCom. “There are inherent problems in the way syndication is cleared that prevent them from getting maximum value,” he said. Syndicators have “got to figure … how to clean up their distribution.”
Days Gone By
Those days “no longer exist,” because high-profile syndicated shows are distributed “day and date,” shot back Mark Hirsch, president, Paramount Advertiser Services.
Some 450 sitcoms launched in the past 12 years, according to Mr. Robertson. Only 42 made it into syndication, and only nine became “syndicated hits … so what you’re buying by and large is the cream of the cream.”
Mr. Mandel agreed that, “When we buy syndication … we know what we’re getting for 52 weeks.” In their upfront presentations, the broadcast networks are “going to tell us they’ve got this show on at 9:30, and [actually] they only ordered four episodes of it.”