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Katz Sees Games as Winners

Jan 20, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Katz Television Group has unveiled its annual list of recommendations for stations eyeballing syndicated product for the 2008 season. “Deal or No Deal,” “The Bonnie Hunt Show,” “Judge Karen Mills” and “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne” all received top recommendations for their categories.
The company, which advises about 350 client stations on the availability and the potential of syndicated programs, announces its report annually before the start of the NATPE television market. It makes recommendations as to when and where programs should be placed on local market schedules in order to maximize their viewing audience, with special emphasis on reaching the demographics that are most desired by advertisers.
“Now in our second decade of presenting the Katz Television Group Programming Preview, this report is meant to provide updates to our clients on the developments and emerging trends in the world of broadcast syndication,” said Bill Carroll, vice president and director of programming at Katz Television. “In this digital age, we all face new challenges and opportunities from the Internet and multicasting. But we still need to concentrate on the present by examining the fall 2007 program performance and the opportunities that exist for next fall and beyond.”
Among first-run fare, the group points to the game show genre in particular as having breakout opportunities.
“Even though the freshman entries turned in less-than-winning formats, the syndicated game category continues to grow for fall 2008 just as the networks expand the prime-time roster with less costly alternatives,” said Lisa Hollaender, Katz Television Group’s director of program research. “Not since the premiere of ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ six years ago has the game show genre seen any new players in first-run or off-network syndication. This season, there are two new entries, but neither was able to break into the game show club.”
She pointed to NBC Universal’s “Deal or No Deal” as a key player in reversing the trend.
“Among the new offerings, we recommend ‘Deal or No Deal,’” she said. “NBC Universal is targeting the elusive early evening time periods, which may work for smaller markets, though we see the more realistic scenario as early fringe or daytime slots. If your station is looking at games for other than an access play, ‘Family Feud’ has reupped for two more years and ‘Millionaire’ is renewed through 2010.”
She also noted that Debmar-Mercury’s game offering “Trivial Pursuit: America Plays” is a strong contributor.
“Debmar is seeking double runs, and it is more likely that ‘Trivial Pursuit’ will end up in daytime and some early fringe situations replacing a second run of a game or in a game block. Under those circumstances, ‘Trivial Pursuit’ is recommended,” she said.
In the talk show ranks, Greg Conklin, senior programmer/director of programming for Katz, noted the genre’s development may be down overall, but gave stations recommendations for both Warner Bros.’ “The Bonnie Hunt Show” and CBS’ “The Doctors.”
“Her background and skills make her a perfect fit for a daytime talk show,” he said of “Bonnie.” “For those who have already purchased ‘The Bonnie Hunt Show,’ this is a solid move and the show could be a long-term player, especially if she is paired with ‘Ellen.’ For those still pondering a purchase, ‘The Bonnie Hunt Show’ is a recommendation.”
Meanwhile, he said “The Doctors” would fare best if placed in daytime and early fringe time periods, especially before 4 p.m.
In the court show ranks, Jim Curtin, senior programmer/director of programming for Katz, noted that while the genre may be crowded, the category remains a key part of daytime lineups.
“Court remains a vital genre both for daytime programming on nontraditional affiliates and for traditional affiliates in early fringe,” he said. “As crowded as the court field is, we are currently tracking several new court projects for next year.
“If you need a new court show for next season, ‘Judge Karen Mills’ offers the best opportunity for stations,” he added.
Terrific off-network syndie launches this season for “Two and a Half Men” and “Family Guy” have refocused attention on the importance of the sitcom genre, according to Mr. Carroll.
“Given the disappointment of years past, reasoned anticipation greeted the launch of two key sitcoms into syndication. In the end, that caution was unnecessary, given the early results for this fall,” noted Bill Carroll. “Looking to the future, as we indicated last year, stations must depend on long-term players and hopefully this year’s success stories while only relying on the crop of new sitcoms to refresh its schedules rather than revitalize schedules.”
He noted that among upcoming offerings, “House of Payne,” “Everybody Hates Chris,” “The Office” and “My Name Is Earl” remain strong plays.
“For 2008, solid performance on TBS has been encouraging and we can again tout the unique offering ‘House of Payne,’ from the creative pen of Tyler Perry,” he said. “We particularly see the program having special utility for nontraditional affiliates in markets with significant ethnic audiences.
“Also added to the mix for 2009 is the well written and critically acclaimed ‘Everybody Hates Chris,’ which chronicles the early family life of comedian Chris Rock. The CBS Television Distribution deal makes this program a very attractive offering for sitcom stations that fall.
“For 2009, many of you have already or will acquire ‘The Office’ or ‘My Name Is Earl,’ we feel both programs have unique audience appeal and will provide needed freshening to existing sitcom blocks. Our concern about these programs is that they are no longer available with broadcast exclusivity in their initial seasons of syndication,” he concluded.

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