Driven by an incredibly strong advertising market and station demand, Columbia TriStar Television Distribution is expected to revamp its syndicated rollout of the NBC hit “Seinfeld” and allow stations the option to run two episodes of the show daily starting this fall.
CTTD had been against allowing stations to double run “Seinfeld” when it makes its syndicated debut in September for fear that it could dilute the show’s value down the road. Most distributors prefer to wait a few years into a show’s syndicated run before allowing multiple runs daily. That way, the show will have more value come renewal time.
But stations and group owners who have rights to the show – including Tribune Broadcasting, Fox, Paramount and Renaissance – have been pressuring CTTD to let them double run the show. The distributor has had talks with several station operators and will likely give the go-ahead for double runs.
For stations to double run the show, they would likely have to renegotiate their license fee with the syndicator. An additional fee and more ad time for CTTD would likely be the price of a “Seinfeld” double run. “Seinfeld” fetched about $2.5 million to $3 million per episode in license fees. CTTD also gets one minute per weekday run of the show and three minutes for weekend runs.
While CTTD declined to comment, sources say that the high ad dollars “Seinfeld” has been commanding in both the network and syndicated upfront markets made the decision to change strategy an easy one for the distributor.
According to industry sources, a 30-second commercial in the network run of “Seinfeld” costs upward of $400,000. A national spot for reruns of “Seinfeld” are said to be close to $100,000. The show is also expected to rake in strong local advertising dollars for stations.
“It’s a wise move on their part; I’m glad they caught on,” said Jack Fentress, vice president and director of programming for Petry Television. “If the show is successful, it could be a good deal for stations.”
Besides the strong advertising demand for the show, many Fox-owned stations and affiliates want to run the show in both prime access (the hour before primetime) and latenight. With Fox not planning a new latenight show until summer of 1996 at the earliest, affiliates want strong product now. Also, since many affiliates are wary of any new Fox latenight plans, having a “Seinfeld” in latenight may help stations keep the time period to themselves.