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Canada’s eOne Crosses U.S. Syndication Border

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Following on its success producing dramas for the global TV market, Toronto-based Entertainment One is entering U.S. syndication with three dramas—Rookie Blue, Haven and Saving Hope.

To distribute the shows, eOne’s plan is to work with partners. Disney-ABC will distribute Rookie Blue, which aired on ABC in the summer for six seasons. Genesis will do the honors on Haven, which aired on NBCUniversal’s SyFy for five seasons. And Litton Entertainment is distributing Saving Hope, originally commissioned by Canada’s CTV and airing originals on Ion in the U.S.

While broadcast syndication has become increasingly less watched and less lucrative for serial dramas in this age of on-demand and streaming video, it makes sense for eOne to tap it as another platform to drive revenue, says CEO John Morayniss.

“For us, it’s looking at all methods of monetization and distribution,” Morayniss says. “We’re really starting from the premise that we’ve got a handful of shows that have been on the air for a number of years and that have hit that critical mass of episodes. As part of that orderly exploitation of our content, we’re taking shows out on cable, in syndication and on [subscription video-on-demand] and [over-the-top] platforms. For us not to exploit these shows in the syndication market would be leaving money on the table.”

Morayniss is clear about the challenges of selling dramas in the U.S. off-net syndication market: “It’s harder with anything serialized because those viewers tend to be more casual,” he says. “The other thing I think is interesting about the syndication market and that is maybe counterintuitive is that the more awareness there is for a show and the more people who have already watched it, the more valuable it is in syndication. You would think that if you had the right show that didn’t have a lot of exposure it would work in syndication, but that’s not often the case.”

Key to eOne’s business model is coproducing with other partners and working with those partners and others to distribute shows worldwide and across platforms, to eke out revenue for one piece of content in many different places. “Syndication is part of the marketplace but it’s not the end-all be-all,” says Morayniss. “For us, syndication revenue is all upside.”

eOne also crafts its deals so that its shows can live non-exclusively on many platforms. As a result, a broadcast syndication deal doesn’t mean eOne’s shows can’t appear on SVOD platforms, such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon or Canada’s own Shomi or Crave TV.

“The non-exclusive nature of these deals means a show like Haven can work in syndication. It can work complementary to an SVOD platform because a viewer can watch in more than one place,” Morayniss says.

For example, a viewer might catch one of the shows on a Saturday afternoon, get interested, binge-watch via an SVOD platform and return next week to watch again on the local station.

eOne also just made a deal with Hulu to carry its show The Enfield Haunting. Hulu offers many other eOne shows, including The Dating Guy and Ellery Queen Mysteries.