Troubled Syndie Market Takes Its Toll

Headed into the NATPE conference and facing an incredibly challenged market, more syndicated shows are going off the air than are being launched so far this buying season.

The only two new first-run strips certain to go forward for fall 2009 are Sony’s Dr. Oz and Debmar-Mercury’s Wendy Williams, both cleared on the Fox station group. Twentieth’s Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader has only just gone to market, but it’s expected to go forward as well.

Sony’s court shows Judge David Young and Judge Karen each will end their runs after this season, according to several sources, while Sony will continue to sell “best-of” episodes of Judge Hatchett to stations for barter. Sources also expect Debmar-Mercury’s Trivial Pursuit: America Plays, averaging a 0.6 live plus same day national household rating, to go off the air. Program Partners says it has two-year deals for Family Court with Judge Penny, that its financial model makes it sustainable at a sub-1.0 national rating, and that it expects the show to return for season two.

T.D Jakes will not go forward for fall 2009, but will be held for fall 2010. Program Partners says Marie Osmond will launch this fall, but the market still considers that show a question mark.

Twentieth’s The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet and Warner Bros.’ Tyra Banks, which will move to The CW next fall, also will end their syndicated runs after this season.

That brings the total of departing first-run shows to five, and new shows to two, although the addition of Fifth Grader, Marie and Warner Bros.’ Jeanine Pirro, coming off of the CW, could bring that total to five.

In lieu of purchasing new first-run shows, for which stations lack cash in a very down advertising market, stations are expected to double- or triple-run existing shows. With ratings so low for daytime time slots, station executives say it makes sense to fill those slots with programming for which they have already paid.

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.