Cynopsis Special Edition: UPFRONT Syndication Special

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Cynopsis Presents:
Cynopsis Special Edition: UPFRONT Syndication Special

By Cathy Applefeld Olson
 
In a market characterized by Titanic-sized programming that shows no signs of sinking, the headlines this season in syndication are the entry of new shows in proven genres and a new studio division launched to produce content specifically for the market.
 
Not to mention the potential new distribution world order in the face of the Sinclair Broadcast Group’s lingering bid to purchase Tribune Media, which has implications for the timing of this year’s pickups and renewals, as well as other pending mega-mergers including Walt Disney-21st Century Fox, and AT&T-Time Warner.
 
Stalwart shows including CBS Television Distribution’s Judge Judy have magnetized audiences for decades – Judge Judy finished the recent sweeps with its third biggest February in the past 10 years – leaving little room for newcomers to settle in. Among casualties, NBCUniversal Domestic Television’s Harry Connick Jr. talker won’t be back after two seasons. Neither will The CW’s Robert Irvine show.
 
“There’s just not a lot of energy and movement this year,” says Stacey Schulman, EVP of strategy and analytics at Katz Media. “Audience loyalty is a huge factor. Daytime audiences, much like news audiences, are pretty glacial in terms of how they move and change. Even during the Olympics, when NBC was pushing hard to get people, we saw some syndicated shows gain viewers against what arguably is pretty compelling content.”

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BEYOND ENTERTAINMENT. NBCU TVD delivers a variety of content across genres. This Fall, DICK WOLF’S HIT DRAMA CHICAGO P.D. joins MyNetwork TV in primetime syndication and as a daily weekday strip, while HEALTH + HAPPINESS with JOY BAUER joins NBC’s Saturday morning block, THE MORE YOU KNOW. Accompanying established fan favorites:
Entertainment news powerhouse…ACCESS
Larger-than-life TV personality…STEVE HARVEY
#1 off-net drama*…LAW & ORDER: SVU

Action-packed…AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR
News staple…DATELINE

*Source: Nielsen C3 ratings, 4Q17
 
But don’t count out the mavericks so fast. Endemol Shine North America last month launched a division dedicated to producing syndicated content, and Michael Weinberg, newly appointed EVP of syndication, says the timing for the studio couldn’t be better.
 
“We have the resources behind us to be able to compete in a really tough marketplace,” he says. Among those resources are the creative teams that developed Steve Harvey’s talker Steve and last year’s Page Six TV, both successfully afloat in the syndication sea, a library of formats with proven global success that can be finessed for the US market, and track record of strong collaborations.
 
“I’m trying to think of a new show that isn’t a collaboration,” Weinberg says. “The days of just a good idea are a long time ago. You have to have the good idea plus the established voice plus the established production company.”
 
Michael Teicher, EVP of media sales at Twentieth Television, which distributes Page Six TV, concurs. “This is a business that makes a lot of sense for us, working with third-party providers from a content, distribution and media sales standpoint,” he says. 
 
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Courting Success

Twentieth Television, home to Bob’s Burgers and Family Feud, among others, is collaborating on its two newest offerings: Caught in Providence, a court show featuring social media star Judge Frank Caprio, and True Crime Files, a syndicated strip in partnership with Investigation Discovery that will offer 260 hours of crime stories a season and cements the true crime genre in the daytime market.
 
Arguably the buzziest newcomer, Caught in Providence is “the first show I have seen in a while where there is potential to break out and find a new audience,” says Katz’s Schulman. Filmed in 80-year-old Caprio’s courtroom in Rhode Island where the judge has been drawing huge audiences via YouTube with his caring, often comical approach, the Debmar-Mercury and Citylife Productions’ title has been picked up by Fox Television Stations for a fall launch.
 
“Judging by the millions of views he already has on his YouTube channel, he has the makings of something different and special going into next year,” Schulman says, adding the newcomer is an “indication of how shows will come to the market. In a world where station groups control a lot of inventory and can make or break the capacity of a show to get on the air, we are starting to see other creators in alternative spaces developing audiences and getting them ready to be in the TV space.”
 
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More Live Viewing, Less Fragmentation

And while those alternative viewing spaces continue to wreak havoc on other content distributors who continue to face cord cutting and attrition, proponents say syndication offers a safer harbor for advertisers.
 
“Viewing patterns are increasingly fragmented across multiple screens, along with on demand and DVR resulting in delayed viewing,” says Bo Argentino, SVP, advertising & media sales, at NBCUniversal Domestic TV Distribution. “However, syndication and daytime in particular is taped less, so the viewing is essentially live. The fans are also loyal and engaged. Audiences are still looking for entertainment, humor and information. Content is still king but new models are more important than ever. We have had great success with social synch with talent reads and with 360’s led by the network portfolio sales group.”
 
In other ways, today’s syndication business mirrors other TV markets, says Twentieth Television’s Teicher. “There will be 500-plus scripted shows in the new television season and only a certain number them will get adequate marketing support and can get share of eyeballs,” he says. “It’s no different for shows launched in daytime, primetime, late night, syndication, cable or broadcast… it’s difficult to launch a new show.”
 

From an advertising perspective, “we are actually very similar to broadcast and cable. We have the same metrics, standards, audience guarantees and opportunities for integrations and social extensions,” Argentino says. She notes advertisers recognize the value of barter syndication, “so we generally move along with the others.” And because syndicated fare is limited, she adds, “we frequently we are ahead and/or faster than other markets. Our shows are often negotiated individually, so in that respect, the clients have a better method for evaluating.”

Brand safety and ad fraud increasingly have come into focus, says Stuart Zimmerman, EVP, advertiser sales, at Sony Pictures Television, home of Dr. Oz, The Goldbergs and Seinfeld, among others. “Marketers want to be assured their ads are being seen, and being measured properly, and in the right environment. They demand transparency.”
 
Zimmerman says advanced analytics is another area of focus. “Clients need to see ROI for their investment. There are many streams of data and many platforms offer their own data solutions. There’s not necessarily a common denominator,” he notes.
 
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B EYOND ENGAGEMENT.

STEVE leaves viewers laughing in daytime! MAURY   is hotter than ever and a growing social media force, engaging young audiences everywhere! ACCESS is seeing huge ratings success!
That’s not all…be on the lookout for even more entertainment! NBCU TVD has exciting new projects in development.
Engage with us! Contact 212-664-7725 for any inquiries about NBCUniversal Television Distribution’s programming and products.
 
New and Different?

Among shows being evaluated now for pickup are a Jane Lynch-hosted variety show from Warner Bros.; Face the Truth, a conflict-resolution show hosted by Vivica A. Fox from CBS Television Distribution; and Sony’s Police Patrol.
 
With true crime viewership skyrocketing – ID is the top-rated cable network among W25-54 – hopes are high for True Crime Files, which will cull content from six to seven ID series and repackage them for the market, Teicher says. “The genre is a magnet for women,” he adds, pointing to average viewing time of 53 minutes for an hourlong program in the genre.
 
NBCU is bringing back sophomore-season Dateline, which has been a strong performer. Also back for a second season is CBS’ Daily Mail TV. Fox stations renewed The Real through 2020, Tribune-Sinclair snagged Disney-ABC Domestic Television’s Black-ish, and Fox picked up NBCU’s Chicago P.D., new in first-run.
 
“Viewers can’t get enough of Dick Wolf’s procedurals,” Argentino says, “And the MYNET lineup has been a successful platform for this insatiability; two runs of Law and Order: SVU on Mondays now joined by two runs of Chicago P.D. on Thursdays.”
 
Looking ahead, Katz’s Schulman says the programming field is more open than ever. “There’s new content of interest to audience available in daytime, and there’s no reason we can’t think about other genres that might also be palatable in broadcast syndication,” she says. “They’re binging on dramas, documentary news, classics and comedies. Anything is fair game. It’s a creative landscape.”
 
 
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