Spinning in the syndie cycle

Skein enters lucrative market in the fall, with b'cast, cable airings

For sale: single-camera sitcom with no laugh track based on doctors dealing with life-or-death issues.

In selling “Scrubs” into the after-markets of syndication and cable for a fall 2006 launch, Buena Vista Television officials had a hard time coming up with shows to compare it to during pitch meetings.

“In terms of the structure of the show — not having a laugh track and being single-camera — you can point to other comedies that have done that, like ‘The Wonder Years’ and ‘Malcolm in the Middle,’ ” says Buena Vista exec VP and general sales manager Jed Cohen. “But from a creative standpoint, those shows aren’t similar at all. They’re family comedies. This is a completely different type of show.”

Certainly, the position of “Scrubs” in the marketplace is very different from, say, CBS’ higher-drawing “Two and a Half Men,” which could command record licensing fees when it hits the syndie market this year.

Starting next fall, “Scrubs” will start stripping concurrently in broadcast syndication and on cable’s Comedy Central. Deals in the syndie market are scattered among Fox (New York and Chicago), Viacom (Los Angeles) and Tribune (Boston and Philadelphia) stations, with these outlets giving up three national ads for each episode but no licensing coin.

“I’m sure not putting it on the fall schedule hurt (syndie sales) a little bit,” noted “Scrubs” showrunner and exec producer Bill Lawrence, shortly after NBC announced a sans-“Scrubs” lineup last spring. (The series has since returned to the network’s Tuesday sked.)

For his part, Cohen says he doesn’t know if the Peacock’s decision will hurt syndie deals for “Scrubs.” But he does believe the show will command respectable time periods and national ad rates.

“What we really focused on was its ability to attract a highly valuable demographic of young, smart, upscale viewers,” Cohen explains, “and because of its ability to reach a young demographic, specifically men ages 18-34, it can be run in a lot of different dayparts. … If it can connect to males in late fringe, it could be a very valuable property.”

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