Katz: New Sources Best for Syndie

Jan 8, 2007  •  Post A Comment

As stations plan for another season in which they have to face changing business models and an apparent dearth of new offerings from syndicators, Katz Television Group focused its programming recommendations for the 2007-08 season on the most innovative options available.

The firm, which annually reviews new syndicated programs for sale for its approximate 250 client stations around the country in anticipation of the National Association of Television Program Executives convention, also forecast in its latest report that programs based on nontraditional syndication sources are likely to proliferate.

“As we get ready for the NATPE conference, we know that we are all faced with the new challenges of the digital age,” said Bill Carroll, VP and director of programming for the group. “We are also aware that not only multicasting but the importance of the Internet, both for reaching audience and also expanding opportunities for our advertisers, are foremost in discussions.”

NATPE is scheduled to be held at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas Jan. 16-18.

The group’s report said that considering next fall’s offerings and the evolution of the landscape, the number of syndicated shows derived from sources such as cable, the Internet and international television likely will continue to grow. And that’s generally a good thing.

“The sheer volume of content flowing from cable, Canada and the Internet into the broadcast syndication marketplace proves that these sources are here to stay and playing a larger role than ever before,” said Anthony Spirito, director of programming for Katz. “U.S. distribution companies are now able to make a business of repurposing content that doesn’t originate in broadcast on broadcast. These are economic models of scale that never presented themselves before the era of media consolidation. Program distributors are going to be exploiting these alternative sources to the fullest extent.”

Upcoming series for next season to come from alternative sources include Twentieth Television’s “The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet,” based on the Fox News Channel series “DaySide” featuring the co-hosts; NBC Universal’s “ivillage Live,” taken from the company’s popular Internet platform; and Program Partners’ Canadian series “DeGrassi: The Next Generation.”

Despite an abundance of development in the game show genre, with no new series officially announced at press time, Katz was unable to make recommendations to stations in this category as well as in the talk show category. However, the group noted that the game show category is prime for some new blood.

“The game show is the only category in syndication which is currently being underplayed,” said Lisa Hollaender, Katz Television Group’s director of program research. Among court shows, Sony Pictures Television’s “Judge David Young” remains the only upcoming series to reach national clearance levels. However, series from other syndicators such as “Jury Duty” and “Celebrity Jury” may also come into play.

“We feel that the genre may be saturated at this time, but the flexibility of use, low cost and relatively high rate of success of court shows continue to make them an attractive alternative, but with modest ratings expectations,” said Jim Curtin, senior programmer and director of programming for Katz. “If you need to freshen your court block, we feel that `Judge David Young’ is the strongest option.”

With few off-network options at play for stations in the next couple of years, Katz executives addressed unusual types of strips at play for station lineups, including the hour-long “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” and off-syndication “Baywatch” as well as Debmar-Mercury’s semi-first-run comedy “House of Payne,” all of which they said held promise in the marketplace. Among traditional fare, they also gave props to “Two and a Half Men” and “Family Guy.”

“A unique rollout yielded a successful limited metered-market test,” Mr. Carroll said of “House of Payne.”

Mr. Carroll also said the program’s ratings performance in various time periods and stations “makes it easy to commit to this unique nearly first-run daily sitcom strip. Though market circumstances must always come into play, we can recommend `House of Payne’ for fall 2008 for most nontraditionals, especially in markets with significant ethnic audiences.”