The Upfront: Warner Bros. Ahead of Syndie Sales Pack

The TV syndication upfront sales marketplace overall is north of 50 percent complete, with one syndicator, Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution, more than 70 percent sold out of its 2008-09 ad inventory, Mediaweek has learned from buyers and sellers.

The studio sales teams are continuing to get 7-9 percent cost-per-thousand increases for top tier new and returning shows, and between 5-7 percent for other programming, with daytime being the hot daypart.

The Bonnie Hunt Show from Warner Bros. has drawn a lot of buyer interest among the new daytime fair, as has NBC Universal Television Distribution’s new half hour version of the NBC prime-time hit game show Deal or No Deal.

Among the off-network sitcoms, Warner Bros. Two and a Half Men has been popular among buyers, as has Twentieth Television’s Family Guy. Among the newly available dramas, NBCU’s House has garnered solid pricing.

Sources said what has helped Warner get even better pricing for Bonnie Hunt is that many stations are pairing it on their schedules with the other popular Warner Bros. talk show The Ellen Degeneres Show.

Disney-ABC Domestic Television’s new syndicated version of Wizard’s First Rule is getting a lot of buyer interest, according to buyers and syndication execs familiar with the negotiations.

CBS Television Distribution continues to get strong interest for The Oprah Winfrey Show. One rival syndicator said despite the smaller successes of some of the other daytime talkers,
“Oprah is still the queen. She still moves product.”

One new CBS show that has been in less demand, buyers said, is The Doctors, a talk show featuring medical professionals, which is being produced by the son of Phil McGraw, star of the CBS Television Distribution talker, Dr. Phil.

Syndicators are doing more deals in this upfront, incorporating product integrations into their packages, particularly with their talk and entertainment shows. NBCU has done some product integration deals for Deal or No Deal, while Warner Bros. has done some product integration deals for Ellen, Bonnie Hunt and The Tyra Banks Show.

Particularly strong categories include packaged goods, pharmaceuticals, movies and fast food.

Syndicators are expected to sell higher levels of ad inventory than last year, much like the broadcast networks which, as Mediaweek reported earlier this week, could boost the total syndication upfront total to about $2.4 billion, up 4.5 percent over last year.