By Lee Alan Hill
Steven Hirsch, president of King World Media Sales, is so high on the syndication business that his sales rap can turn the form’s perceived limitations into advantages.
“If you say it’s a disadvantage that there are few syndicated shows in prime time, I’ll point out that the networks don’t program in prime access and early fringe. We’re how you reach people during those time periods,” Mr. Hirsch said.
“In fact, I’d say that the major drawback to syndication is a perception drawback [because of] the longevity of our shows. How do you create excitement for shows that have been on the air for years-often more than 20 or 30-shows that are true franchises?”
Mr. Hirsch has the enviable satisfaction of handling ad sales for the three top-rated shows in syndication, according to Nielsen Media Research-“Wheel of Fortune,” “Jeopardy!” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show”-and six of the top 10. But his good fortune makes him no less active in the SNTA.
“We believe our voices have been drowned out by the large publicity machines of the networks and cable,” he said. “We need the SNTA to be the place where the sole job is to talk to advertisers and planners, to get advertisers and agencies focused on our success. It’s a universe that is being missed when the media looks at television.”
Roger King, CEO of CBS Enterprises and King World Productions, is obviously happy with Mr. Hirsch’s enthusiasm for the cause. “Steve has represented each of our shows with passion and integrity [and] has justifiably earned a reputation as the finest barter salesman in the industry,” Mr. King said.
The two men have been connected since 1984, when Mr. Hirsch co-founded with Rich Levy Camelot Entertainment Sales, which later evolved into King World Media Sales. Before that Mr. Hirsch was at TeleRep, where he was one of the early advocates of the barter business and helped to launch syndication franchise show “Entertainment Tonight” and other programs.
Mr. Hirsch said he insists his staff members at King World have “a complete knowledge of the product” and that they work closely with buyers to analyze the marketplace. “The buyer knows exactly where the spots are running, and the buyer gets the show. They’re not put into a block of time, as with cable,” he said.
“Syndication is where you can reach people on a yearly basis,” Mr. Hirsch said. “We deliver new programs when the networks are down, such as during summer reruns. And we do it with marquee shows.”
Just the Facts
Title: President, King World Media Sales
How long in current position: Co-founded Camelot Media Sales, King World Media Sales’ predecessor, in 1984 and became its president in 1987
Year of birth: 1949
Place of birth: New York (raised in New Rochelle, N.Y.)
Who knew? Mr. Hirsch was one of the first males to matriculate at Vassar College after that institution went co-ed in 1969.