Skip to main content

Syndicators Press Lasting Power of Predictability

Syndicators are taking a two-pronged pitch to advertisers at this year’s upfronts.

First, they are pressing the reliability and efficiency of the format. Syndicated shows air five days a week, are mostly watched live and offer predictable ratings. Second, syndication also tends to be a value buy for advertisers, with cost-per-thousands (CPMs) far below their primetime compatriots but with often comparable reach.

“Syndication offers great production value, ratings and reach, and you are buying only programs that deliver your target,” says Michael Teicher, Twentieth executive VP of media sales. “Our ads are viewed live and viewers recall them. Nobody skips our ads because everyone watches our shows live.”

“We’ve got these attractive elements for which advertisers rely on us—big reach, live ratings and getting messages out there quickly,” says John O’Hara, executive VP, Warner Bros. Brand Networks. “All of that has always been attractive but now it is infinitely more so because we are living in this fragmented, time-shifted landscape.”

With all of this year’s rookies renewed for second seasons, slots for new shows are slight. As a result, there are thus far only three national shows going forward this fall: Warner Bros.’ Crime Watch Daily and Disney-ABC’s The F.A.B Life and NBCUniversal’s Crazy Talk, so syndication ad sales executives are focusing their pitches on the strengths of syndication’s veteran programs.

Meanwhile, CBS Television Distribution also is discussing the 24/7 reach of syndication’s day-and-date programs via a constant stream of new episodes coupled with show’s Web presences, including social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others.

To best offer buyers multiplatform solutions, CTD recently changed its ad-selling process so that all of its salespeople are empowered to sell across all platforms, including linear, digital and social. “We’re going to market in a totally different way than we have in the past,” says Paul Montoya, CTD president, media sales. “We are so much more than our big television shows. We obviously have huge numbers with Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy!, Judge Judy and other shows, but we are so much more than linear TV shows and we have so much more to offer. If you think about all of these big brands that we have, it’s really about engaging with these powerful brands throughout the day.”

For example, says Montoya, “If someone is looking for a recipe, they would go to RachaelRay. com. If they need a self-help tip, it’s Dr. Phil or The Doctors. The majority of our TV shows are engaging with consumers throughout the day and that’s a powerful thing to offer to our partners.”

Getting Brands Involved

The daily relationships that many syndicated shows have with viewers also makes them attractive to brands.

For example, Debmar-Mercury’s Wendy Williams is in its second year of a partnership with Disney Parks, in which the show hosts a watch-and-win promotion throughout sweeps. This year, Mickey and Minnie Mouse appeared on Wendy’s 1000th episode on January 30 to kick off the promotion, which included video packages of “Wendy Watchers” enjoying themselves at Walt Disney World.

Each day during February sweeps, the show would air a video clue that featured a Disney park employee offering the word of the day, such as “monorail.” Viewers were encouraged to enter the word online and then they would be entered into a drawing to win one of four Disney Grand Fantasy giveaways. Disney got multiple promotions each week, including the weekly video postcard with the Wendy Watchers as well as the daily enter-to-win promo and a regular promo, says Karen Bonck, Debmar-Mercury senior VP of branded partnerships.

The show is launching two other branded partnerships this week, one promoting the 100th anniversary of Miami Beach and another promoting the Avon 39 walk for breast cancer research.

“Avon is rebranding to be more straight-talking and their messaging is a little less soft than it has been in years past. They felt like Wendy was the perfect talent to deliver this tough-talking messaging,” Bonck says.

Other shows—such as Warner Bros.’ Ellen DeGeneres and The Real and CBS Television Distribution’s Rachael Ray and The Doctors—also offer advertisers reliable environments in which to include their brand messages.

The Real has become a favorite among young women and the hosts all have big social followings,” says O’Hara. “They get really involved with the products both on the show and across social media.”