After looking like there would be slim pickings of syndicated shows debuting next fall, there now appears to be “a little bit of everything.” But the economic woes mean that in many cases, shows are going to market on an all-barter, no-cash basis, where stations share ad revenue with syndicators but don’t pay license fees.
TV stations limping along with underperforming syndicated shows can take heart. Right on schedule, the syndicators have come up with a new batch of first-run and off-net programs for fall 2010 — possible solutions to stations’ syndication troubles.
“Despite the fact that, initially, it looked like there wouldn’t be much of a variety of shows to choose from for fall 2010, there’s now potentially a little bit of everything,” says Bill Carroll, vice president and director of programming at Katz Television Group.
Syndicators face significant challenges in inking deals in this year’s marketplace, of course.
The recession has drained station coffers. The result is that, in many cases, shows are going to market on an all-barter, no-cash basis, where stations share ad revenue with syndicators but don’t pay license fees.
Moreover, many stations are distracted by negotiations on renewals of high-priced shows like CBS’s Oprah and Dr. Phil. (The current deals on those shows expire after the 2010-11 season.)
Perhaps the 2010 show with the highest profile is CBS’s Swift Justice with HLN host Nancy Grace. A pilot — or a portion of a pilot — of the court-legal, half-hour strip has been shot and CBS is now in talks with stations about picking it up for next fall.
CBS also has The Lawyers in the works, but whether the distributor will take it to market this year remains to be seen. The show, which features a panel of legal experts, is from Stage 29 Productions, the same outfit that produces The Doctors and Dr. Phil for CBS.
Warner Bros., which may have a hole to fill if its low-rated The Bonnie Hunt Show isn’t renewed, is out talking to stations about MomLogic. That show is based on a Web site, momlogic.com, and features a panel of female hosts, including Food Network’s Paula Deen and Jon & Kate Plus 8’s Kate Gosselin.
Warner Bros. is also developing Lifechangers, a make-over show based on an Extra segment, but it may be held back until fall 2011.
Meanwhile, Program Partners, which had to scuttle plans for a Marie Osmond talk show just before the start of this season, is coming back with Steven and Chris.
The lifestyle show — similar to CBS’s Rachael Ray and NBC Universal’s Martha — is an import from Canada’s CBC. Hosted by Steven Sabados and Chris Hyndman, it debuted on CBC in January 2008. CBC was forced to put the show on hiatus last March because of the network’s money troubles, but says it will be back on the schedule at 2 p.m. ET next month.
Sabados and Hyndman had a run in the U.S. in the early 2000s on Discovery Home and Leisure (now Planet Green) as the Designer Guys.
Disney’s ABC production unit recently shot a talk-show pilot with actress Aisha Tyler, perhaps best known for her recurring role on Friends. But it’s not clear where it will appear. According to a Disney spokesman, the show could end up in syndication, ABC daytime or on one of the Disney cable networks.
Trifecta Entertainment is meeting with stations about Judge Heck, a court show with former Missouri circuit court judge Anthony Heckemeyer on the bench. The show is being offered to stations on a barter-only basis.
Trifecta also has Tooned In, an entertainment newsmagazine hosted by animated characters. Bucking the trend, it will likely be sold on a cash-plus-barter basis.
“We’re hitting the streets really, really hard right now,” says Hank Cohen, CEO and partner at Trifecta. “We’re having great meetings with stations, but nothing concrete yet.”
Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios is also launching a court show, America’s Court with Judge Kevin Ross, who has been a judge and a prosecutor in Southern California. The programmer is offering back-to-back shows in a one-hour block.
Litton may also bring out a court show, but is apparently waiting to see what shows run aground during the ongoing November sweeps before committing to it.
And Litton is taking Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild into broadcast syndication as a weekly.
Sales of the top off-broadcast offerings are already far along. Twentieth Television has cleared How I Met Your Mother in more than 90 percent of the country. Buyers include Fox, Tribune and CBS.
The sitcom, which is already seen once a week on Lifetime, is being sold on a cash-plus-barter basis (1.5/5.5 minute).
Warner Bros., meanwhile, has cleared New Adventures of Old Christine, the CBS hit starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, on stations covering more than 90 percent of TV households.
Warner Bros. has had similar success with its two off-cable offerings, HBO favorites Curb Your Enthusiasm and Entourage. They, too, are sold into around 90 percent of the country.
Among other off-cable shows, NBCU‘s The Real Housewives is cleared in more than 80 percent of the country on stations owned by CBS, LIN, Post-Newsweek, Sinclair and others.
Debmar-Mercury is talking to stations about one-hour strip True Hollywood Stories from E! Entertainment, likely for late fringe, and TBS sitcom Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns. A Debmar spokesperson says there are no announced clearances for either show.
MGM is out with Cash Cab, a game show airing on Discovery Channel. The trivia game is played in a New York cab by contestants picked up off the street.
Twentieth is pitching National Geographic Channel’s The Dog Whisperer on an all-barter basis. It features dog trainer Cesar Millan.
Warner Bros. reports that the weekly drama The Closer, the TNT police drama starring Kyra Sedgwick, has been cleared in roughly 90 percent of the country.
Meanwhile, a few shows are already being lined up for fall 2011.
NBCU is selling 30 Rock on an all-barter, no-cash basis for 2011 and has already cleared the NBC sitcom in 85 percent of the country.
Twentieth is offering the FX comedy It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which has already been picked up by stations owned by Fox, Tribune and CBS, covering 45 percent of the country.
Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions is developing a show for 2011 with home decorator and frequent Oprah guest Nate Berkus.