Syndie ads see 12% rise

TV syndicators will harvest $ 1.5 billion in national advertising sales for 1993, a jump of 12% over 1992’s $ 1.34 billion.

That’s the word from the Advertiser Syndicated TV Assn., the umbrella group for companies that sell barter time on the programs they distribute in syndication.

Tim Duncan, executive director of ASTA, attributes some of the healthy growth — surprising in a sluggish advertising marketplace — to the boom in firstrun action hours, which pull as many as eight minutes out of each episode for national barter.

“These shows are bringing a ton of money to the syndicators, and most of it is new money,” he says. Duncan cites the two ongoing “Star Trek” hours (“The Next Generation” and “Deep Space Nine”), “Kung Fu” and “Time Trax” from Warner Bros. TV, Paramount’s “The Untouchables,” All American TV’s “Baywatch,” Stephen Cannell’s “Renegade” and Rysher TV’s “Highlander.” At least four new hourlong series will kick off in the 1993-94 season: Warner Bros. TV’s “Babylon Five,” Cannell’s “Cobra,” All American’s “Acapulco Heat” and Rysher’s “Robocop.”

Duncan also cites the accelerating trend of syndicators’ holding back barter spots in sitcom reruns. Columbia Pictures TV broke precedent last year by marketing “Designing Women” as an all-barter offering, with the company carving out 31/2 minutes in each half-hour in lieu of cash license fees from the stations. Warner Bros. TV has a similar deal going this season with “Family Matters,” in which the station pays no cash but lets WB gobble up three minutes in each run.

Other sitcoms are going out on deals that combine cash with barter. For example, 20th TV, in addition to collecting license-fee money from stations, keeps two minutes in each “Doogie Howser, M.D.” half-hour and one minute in each episode of “The Simpsons,” both of which are available in the fall of 1994. In two other fall 1994 sitcoms, MCA TV is withholding a minute in “Coach,” as is Warner Bros. in “Fresh Prince of Bel Air.” ASTA is calculating these revenues in its 1994 projections.

And syndicated programs, particularly talkshows, keep eating into daytime slots that were formerly under the control of the network. In the latest example , CBS has canceled its two “Family Feud” half-hours at 10 a.m. and will return the hour to its affiliates next month.

Duncan says syndication has achieved a dominance in children’s programming through the aggressive distribution to indie stations and Fox affiliates of firstrun animated half-hours by Disney, Fox and Warner Bros., among others. Going head-to-head with the Big Three broadcast networks and the cable networks in the upfront marketplace for children’s series earlier this year, syndication chalked up a dazzling $ 140 million out of a total revenue stream of $ 550 million.

ASTA thinks syndication will get a revenue boost in 1995, Duncan says, because that’s when King World extracts an additional 30-second national spot in “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy.”

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