NBC’s Swindler Has Strong Hand With Vieira

Edward Swindler, head of NBCUniversal Domestic Television Distribution is going into the fall with syndication's brightest new offering, The Meredith Vieira Show. He talks about that as well as Steve Harvey, the fate of such shows as Trisha Goddard and opportunities for fall 2015 that include Katie’s soon-to-be vacated time slots on the ABC O&Os.

Edward Swindler’s timing could not have been better. When the 30-year NBC executive added oversight of NBCUniversal Domestic Television Distribution last summer, the syndication unit was enjoying the first-season success of Steve Harvey, its first talk show since Steve Wilkos in 2007 and first non-conflict show since the short-lived Megan Mullally in 2006. Steve Harvey has gotten only stronger in its second season.

Swindler hopes to keep the momentum going this fall with The Meredith Vieira Show, this season’s only new, big-name, big-budget syndicated talk show.

In 2013, Swindler was promoted to president of NBCUniversal Domestic Television Distribution and president of operations at NBC Broadcast, reporting to Ted Harbert, chairman of NBC Broadcasting. Based in New York, he continues in that role where he is responsible for maximizing the revenue and profitability of the NBC network, its local stations, domestic distribution, first-run syndication and affiliate relations.

Swindler joined NBC in 1984. Prior to the 2013 promotion, he served six years as EVP and chief operating officer of NBC Universal Ad Sales, overseeing sales operations, pricing and planning for $7 billion in annual sales across broadcast, cable and digital. Before that, he held a variety of strategy, pricing and financial jobs.

In this interview with TVNewsCheck Contributing Editor Kevin Downey, Swindler talks about Meredith, Steve Harvey, the fate of such shows as Trisha Goddard and opportunities for fall 2015 that include Katie’s soon-to-be vacated time slots on the ABC Owned Television Stations.

An edited transcript:


How is your transition to syndication going at NBCUniversal?

I spent most of the last 30 years on the national networks, NBC, in particular, but also the cable networks. I spent much of that time as chief operating officer of the ad sales group across those networks. Syndication is an interesting space. It’s more robust than I thought it would be. It’s a lot of fun.

Why do you think Steve Harvey has been successful?

The first reason is that Steve is as talented a host as there is. He proves that every day. He is naturally funny. And, in the second season, he has evolved into one of the premiere talk show hosts.

Once you meet him, it’s very clear why he is successful. He is extraordinarily relatable. He is also a very hard-working guy.

His show was up by more than a third [38%] in homes and about a quarter [22%] in women 25-54 in the November sweeps. I think that reflects that people are finding him. We had a goal to broaden out the show, which we have done. We had a goal to fix some of the markets that were underperforming, which we have done.

Also, Alex Duda and Rushion McDonald, his two executive producers, are very, very good at this. There is the nuts-and-bolts of producing and marketing and selling a show. Then, there is the creative. We are strong in both of those areas.

How important to Steve’s success is its pairing with Warner Bros.’ Ellen on many stations?

It’s very helpful to both shows. He brings an audience to Ellen that she probably didn’t have. The cross-promotion has helped Steve. But these are the two best shows in the afternoon in first-run syndication. They are very fun to watch and they flow well together.

What are your expectations for Meredith Vieira this fall?

Our expectation is that it will be successful, creatively, and in the ratings. All the legs that hold up a show in syndication are in excellent shape: clearance, ad sales, the creative and casting.

It’s cleared in more than 90% of the country, which is a reflection of the great work of Sean O’Boyle and his team. Within that 90%, more than 90% is cleared on very strong NBC, ABC and CBS affiliates. It has got a leg up.

Ad sales are equally important in a show’s first year. We are in the marketplace with partnerships that we hope to get done before the upfront.

Creatively, the show is in good shape. Valerie Schaer [EVP, creative affairs] is my partner in this. She is our chief creative. She worked with Meredith on The View. It’s a great team.

We expect this to be a successful launch. There are no other shows of this level coming out in the fall, which we hope will be helpful to us.

Are you expecting Meredith to be profitable in its first or second seasons?

I never comment on the financial outlook for a show. But, at NBCUniversal we do the responsible thing, in terms of program costs and license fees. We do the right thing to maintain long-term relationships with affiliates and we do the right thing in ad sales for long-term relationships with our key clients.

You set all of these things so you have a profitable trajectory over the course of a show’s life. These shows, when they succeed, are quite profitable. We set it up to be profitable, but I can’t comment on whether or not we’ll be successful out of the gate. These are long-term bets.

What is the status of NBCUniversal’s Trisha Goddard?

Trisha launched two years ago with Steve Harvey. With all the wreckage in the marketplace, that was the only other show that survived.

It was a limited launch because of a lack of time periods. This is a longer term trajectory. We knew it wouldn’t have full clearance early on.

We are very satisfied with the show. We are very happy with it and plan to build it as it goes forward.

So, Trisha will be renewed for a third season?

You should ask me that in a few months. We are assessing where we are. We are happy with the show, but we haven’t addressed next season yet.

Will Maury, Jerry Springer and Steve Wilkos be renewed beyond current deals through 2015-16?

I don’t see the end of these shows. Stations are very interested in renewing beyond where we are. Wilkos grew for each of its first five years. I don’t think that had ever been done before. It’s not easy to launch new shows, as you’ve seen this year.

These shows are still profitable. They are good businesses for us and for local stations.

Is NBCUniversal developing shows for Katie time slots on the ABC Owned Stations, which will open up in fall 2014?

If you look at the Katie time periods, Meredith Vieira is cleared on many of those stations. She is clearly getting real estate that might not have been there had Katie continued.

We don’t know if the shows we create for the following year will be on ABC stations or any other station group. We don’t have the concepts locked down yet. Valerie Schaer is very focused on finding the right talent in the right concept. That’s the first thing, even before we look at the landscape.

What concepts are you working on?

The key to syndication is finding a talent who is extraordinarily relatable in a concept that the audience can live with for three or four or five hours a week. We are very aware of the holes in the marketplace. Now, we have to find the concepts.

Figuring out TV station schedules has to be a lot different than working on the network side.

On NBC and cable networks, all you have to do is find the show and talent and put it on an existing network. In syndication, you have to create your own network of stations, in addition to the creative and the right talent. It’s a step up, in terms of hurdles to overcome.

Why do you think syndicated TV has a lot of ethnic hosts these days?

I’ll preface by saying Steve Harvey is hot right now. But the audience in daytime, and in all spaces, is becoming more diverse — black and Hispanic. Part of what you are seeing is that the talents reflect the audience.

But, more than that, you have to find talent who can relate to an audience. Steve Harvey does that. Wendy Williams relates to her audience. Maury does that with his audience.

Other syndicators have been testing first-run shows before a national rollout. Will NBCUniversal do that?

The development of a show and the creation of a pilot are so expensive that finding alternate methods to develop shows is a very good idea. With Meredith and Steve Harvey, we did traditional pilots. The talent and pilots were so good that we didn’t feel we had to test those shows.

But I think there are times when you have to do a test to see if an audience buys a show. I think it’s very innovative to test shows. I applaud that trend.

Do you have any specific shows you plan to test?

It will depend on the shows we develop. It may make sense to test some on the air, rather than creating a pilot, which can be very expensive.

Some of the other syndicators are partnering with station groups on developing shows. Do you have any plans to do that?

That is a trend you will see more of. There’s consolidation of TV stations going on. I think these stations have a few goals. They want to own more of their content. And they want more control over the content on their air. We have spoken with station groups about partnering on shows.

The most important thing in launching a show in syndication is to find the right talent and put them in the right concept, then appeal to the right audience. Once you do that, the business relationship of having a co-producer, like Endemol on Steve Harvey, or partnering with a station group, is a secondary issue.

What is your outlook for syndication ad spending in 2014 and 2015?

Syndication has done pretty well. It has grown pretty nicely the past few years, except when Oprah went away, which was an unusual event. Advertisers want to be embedded in great content. As long as we have great content, we will be fine.

Recessions are very tough on local stations and national networks. But, absent economic events, I think advertising will grow as it has traditionally grown.

The good thing with syndication is that the shows on five days a week are great for advertisers. The shows have a deep relationship with their audience. Advertisers know that. And it’s easy to embed [advertisers] into the shows with integration. Syndication is in a pretty good place.

Comments (1)

Leave a Reply

Jeff Juniet says:

May 6, 2014 at 5:33 am

ケースの多くは、数百の印象的な品揃えは、使用する可能性が存在してDKれる。 シャネル iPhone5 ケース iphone5sケース シャネル iPhone 5 携帯 エルメス ネットであなたも、より多くの鉄骨の検索に加えてから選択するように設定している。 GOOD状況的ブラウズは、したがって、現在では、オンラインを介して、あなたの最愛のケース内に、全世界を体験し、あなたが探しているものを取得するケースの最小量が含まれています。

iPhoneは賢い携帯電話の数が本当に愛しプラスた熱は、国際的にほとんどの人々によってちょうど歓迎栄え、多くの一つです。 iPhoneの信者は、iPhoneケースの様々なタイプがしばらく業界の世界であっても、ウェブのブティックには存在理由ですあなたの国の、世界の国々の大部分は中に見つけることができます。 あなたは、ipadと、iPhone、カバーを通して、個人の好みのも希望通りのためのケースを購入することができます。

あなたはどんな鈍い求めてiPhoneの疲れだろうか? 例のWHEREのジャズは魅力的な専門的なiPhoneのhoesjeを持っているあなた自身のフルーツiPhoneを上向きにした後に確認してください。 iPhoneに関してはカスタムメイドhoesjesは、個々のいくつかのスマートiPhoneを取得するための賢明な方法かもしれない自身の作成のものは他のいくつかのありふれユニットから個性的に表示されます。 もの自身のギズモは、おそらくこれ以上のカスタムiPhoneカバーと一緒に鈍いができません。

グッチiPhone5 ケース カバーに通常あなたがそれを最新のデザインを選択するすべての代わりにしたいの最良の方法を作成します。 シャネル/iPhone5 ケース 集計に向けて、1を見てコミットすることができ、デザインの配列があります。 specialitを購入されているすべての人のために、重要な設計またはおそらくカスタマイズした結果として、項目を見て確信するあなたの個人的なiPhoneのカバーのために開発し、あなたの今、あなたは非常に良いかもしれない理解し、パターンに異常な可能性があります。

More News