By Lee Alan Hill
Special to TelevisionWeek
When you’re trying to sell a message to the whole country, take it on the road. That’s the philosophy of the Syndicated Network Television Association, which holds its kick-off event each year in New York. Last year it added Chicago to its Syndication Day presentations. This year it is adding Los Angeles, which means its mes–sage about the benefits of syndicated programming for advertisers and media buyers will be heard in America’s three biggest markets.
“What we want to do is take the conference and hit as many people as we can,” said SNTA Chairman Howard Levy, who doubles as executive VP of ad sales for Buena Vista Television.
“Though there are more people in New York, we do pretty much the same thing in all three cities,” Mr. Levy said. “But we recognize that budgets are tight, so we decided to come to them.”
Like the event held March 10 in New York, the conferences March 21 in Chicago and March 24 in Los Angeles will begin with short-perhaps 12- to 15-minute-presentations by SNTA President Mitch Burg on the continued growth of syndication. Mr. Burg said he will point out to those assembled that total audience for syndication is up 5 percent from last season.
Then at each event, executives from the seven SNTA member companies-Buena Vista Television Advertising Sales, King World Media Sales, NBC Universal Television Distribution, Paramount Advertiser Services, Tribune Entertainment, Twentieth Television and Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution-will offer rundowns of their companies’ shows and numbers in about 45 minutes.
At roughly 5 p.m. in each city there will be a Planners Summit, during which participants will discuss the presentations in shorter form for attendees who did not have the time to go through the entire day.
“These are separate breakout sessions showing the ad community how a show can be tailored to their needs, how to improve research [and] how syndication is branded entertainment,” Mr. Burg said.
“No one needs a story. They need information. This is the starting point of a discussion-how syndication, the place with proven franchise hits and the biggest TV stars-can work for you,” he said.
A reception will follow. While celebrities including Regis Philbin, Tony Danza and Ellen DeGeneres were invited to attend the New York reception, the gatherings in Chicago and Los Angeles will be lower-profile.
Chicago was added to Syndication Day last year, Mr. Burg said, “because there are some key agencies there and great interest. Last year there were about 75 at the Chicago presentations, which is less than the other two cities, but we want to get the word out wherever we can.”
Syndication Day in all three cities also includes presentations from two nonmembers-MGM Domestic TV Distribution and Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios, which produces and distributes talk and lifestyle programs.
In addition to the three Syndication Day conferences, what Mr. Burg described as “mini-presentations” for media buyers will take place later in Atlanta, Detroit and Dallas.
The itinerary in Chicago is unique in that the SNTA does a day of its presentations specifically for clients of Starcom USA at the Starcom offices.
“Starcom has embraced syndication for a long time,” said Elizabeth Herbst-Brady, the agency’s senior VP and director of broadcast investment. “This is a an opportunity for our clients to focus on syndication for a day each year.”
Ms. Herbst-Brady joined Starcom in September 2004 but has spent the bulk of her career in New York, where she was previously executive VP with Universal TV’s syndication division. She is an unabashed supporter of the Syndication Day concept. “The value is twofold,” she said. “These conferences boost overall awareness of what is available, and they can highlight specific opportunities for the client.”
“It’s a terrific day-time well spent,” Ms. Herbst-Brady said.