Syndication & TV Stations: A Missed Revenue Opportunity?

Television stations and the syndication industry continue to be a steady business partnership. But could it be better?

Take Hearst Broadcasting's David Barrett. He says Hearst stations grab 40% of ad revenues from local news, 24-30% from network programming, and the rest from syndicated shows.

Of course, each TV station situation varies. But I would guess that some stations might consider it lucky to have a steady 30%-30%-30% revenue breakdown (including associated digital content), providing a hedge when one or more of the revenue pieces fail to perform.

The question becomes how this formula is changing. Many stations want to gain more control, by airing additional local programming -- news/magazine shows, multi-cast digital channels and micro-niche Internet news sites.

One thing is for sure: the network part of this three-legged stool seems to be getting shorter. Forget about network compensation. Network executives are angling for a bigger piece of all those retransmission dollars.

That leaves syndicated programming -- still a vibrant part of a TV station's revenue plans. The good news: first run shows seem to be getting cheaper to take on board. The bad news: prices for proven off-network sitcoms continue to climb.

Many executives continue to believe in the long-term prospects of taking on syndicated programming. That's the good news -- but you wonder whether syndication has really missed the big media boat. Could executives be whispering this at the just-concluded NATPE meeting in Miami?

With so many new TV/video platforms, you would think the traditional syndication formulas would have easily extended into other areas -- local multi-cast signals, Internet video sites, and mobile platforms.

While content owners do "syndicate" content digitally, there is still little or no connection with the traditional and still-effective syndication business on TV stations. This could have put stations and those in the syndication business in a good place.

Syndication might still be a steady part of the 30-30-30 formula for stations. But it seemingly could have been a lot more.

Tags: television, tv
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1 comment about "Syndication & TV Stations: A Missed Revenue Opportunity? ".
  1. Chris Nesbitt from Television Marketing Strategies, Inc. , January 27, 2011 at 3:10 p.m.

    Wayne,

    In my opinion, if television stations were smart, they would start producing local programs of a variety of genres. Quite frankly, I am stunned how executives cannot see that. Local, local, local! Progressive, "outside the box" thinkers will see the vision. In the meantime, they will keep paying for sub-quality programs and other shows that can be seen on cable. All the while, the networks keep picking their pockets and major sporting events will continue to shift to cable networks.

    Chris Nesbitt
    Television Marketing Strategies, Inc.
    tmsnesbitt@bellsouth.net
    919-428-0862