Distribs Make Most of a Sparse Field

Jun 9, 2003  •  Post A Comment

With fewer new series making it to the airwaves via syndication this fall, distributors are strategizing to get the most out of their launches. Next season will see one distributor capitalize on its powerful station group with nontraditional launch dates, the official national launch of an Emmy-winning talk-show host and two new strips debut on the NBC owned-and-operated stations the same day.
First out of the gate will be the June 9 national launch of Twentieth’s “Ex-treme Dating” on Fox Television Stations. The half-hour relationship show has tested the waters recently with a slow rollout, but the distributor is giving it a summer launch to capitalize on the elevated viewership among younger demos during the summer, according to analysts. The syndicator will aldo add the “Ryan Seacrest” strip to the mix in January.
Buena Vista’s “Wayne Brady Show ” also tests the waters this season with a limited rollout. The series aired in about half the country, coming out with a bang last September before experiencing ratings erosion later in the year. But Mr. Brady got a daytime Emmy last month, so the distibutor wants to capitalize on potential momentum from the Emmy win entering the new season.
Two series analysts are keeping a close eye on are Telepictures’ “Ellen DeGeneres” and NBC Enterprises’ “Starting Over,” both of which bow Sept. 8. The two strips are cleared on NBC O&Os and are expected to surround the network’s soap operas. Series leaving or which have already left the station group’s schedules include “Life Moments” and “The Other Half.”
The following week will see a four-way battle among freshmen series, two first-run, one off-net and one off-cable. Sony will be in the thick of it with the off-cable bow of “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” and the off-net runs of “King of Queens,” both premiering Sept. 15. “Ripley’s” has a successful run on TBS and will be split into a half-hour format for its syndication run.
Telepictures will launch its other high-profile series, “Sharon Osbourne,” the same day. It is cleared on the Tribune station group. Meanwhile, King World will hope to follow the success of this year’s hit “Dr. Phil” with the premiere of “Living It Up With Ali & Jack.” “Living It Up” is set to air on the CBS owned stations, among others.
Among the weeklies, the two high-profile off-net series “The West Wing” and “Angel” will debut the weekend of Sept. 27.