Advertisers spent $3.9 billion in 2004 for spots in TV syndication — a 16% jump from 2003’s ad revenues and syndie’s best year ever.
That statistic opened the syndication upfront presentation by Mitch Berg, president of the Syndicated Network TV Assn., to an audience of 600 registered ad-agency media buyers in New York on Thursday.
For the season to date, Berg said the household ratings for shows in TV syndication have shot up an average of 5.2%, compared with gains of only 0.4% for the broadcast networks, auguring well for syndie ad revenues in 2005.
The main genres of syndication — talkshows, gavelers, off-net sitcoms and gameshows — all delivered solid rating increases for the year.
Berg said another sign of syndication’s health is that so few returning shows are getting canceled. Syndie developers were able to clear only four new five-a-week series for the 2005-06 season, a near-record low for rookie shows. The four are NBC Universal’s “The Martha Stewart Show,” Warner Bros. Domestic’s “Tyra Banks Show” and two from Twentieth TV: “A Current Affair” and “Judge Alex.” Sony Pictures TV still hasn’t decided yet on the fate of another fall wannabe, “The Robin Quivers Show.”
Programs in TV syndication are less cluttered with back-to-back 30-second spots than those of broadcast TV, said Berg, citing an internal survey showing 88% of syndie programming had station breaks of less than three minutes in length.
And syndicated programming is getting better, Berg said, pointing to the 20 Emmy Awards harvested by syndie shows in 2004. Syndication’s popularity was highlighted in a recent a Harris Interactive poll on the most well-liked personalities in showbiz. Six syndie stars far exceeded the average: Oprah Winfrey, Ray Romano, Kelly Ripa, Dr. Phil McGraw, Ellen DeGeneres and Regis Philbin.
Advertisers perked up when Berg said syndication bends over backward to allow sponsors to integrate their products into the shows. Recent beneficiaries of syndie’s permissive attitude include Heineken, P&G, Pontiac, Johnson & Johnson, AOL, T-Mobile, Wendy’s, Home Depot and Revlon.