Given the negatives that face the syndicated TV marketplace—a lack of successful new entries, immense competition from digital video for ad dollars and technology that allows viewers to watch on their own time—somehow its major daytime players stand to do solid business in the 2016 ad bonanza. There are a few reasons for this, some of it resulting from being in the right place at the right time.
Stability among stalwart shows like CBS Television Distribution's Judge Judy, Dr. Phil and Rachael Ray and Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution's Ellen has given some advertisers a safe port in the stormy seas of video ad spending. "When you have really strong veteran shows where buyers know what they're getting, they become extremely valuable to advertisers," explained one syndication ad sales executive.
Ironically, daytime syndication is also benefiting from one of the strongest scatter markets in recent years, sparked in part by a weak upfront last year. Plus, the race for the White House is heating up. Syndicators expect to secure a healthy chunk of the more than $8 billion that Borrell Associates forecasts the presidential candidates will spend on TV this year. Talks with Washington, D.C.-based agencies and Super PACs have already started, earlier than the previous election cycle.
With the biggest financial windfall coming to local stations—beginning with outlets in early-voting states Iowa and New Hampshire—that market will soon get oversaturated, especially with so many presidential hopefuls on the Republican side. Those that might get bumped on their local buys will end up steering their funds to the national arena, including syndication.
Why? The mostly female audience—daytime syndicated programs predominantly deliver women 25-54. But that demo is also valuable to pharmaceutical, retail, packaged-goods and restaurant marketers. "It's a great place to reach women," said Courtney Martin, associate director, Starcom. "We've seen just really steady performance from the syndication daytime marketplace." Lending strength to those numbers is an almost-caveman-like behavior in TV viewing. Over 90 percent watch their shows live, despite time-shifted viewing everywhere else save live sports and news.
"It is rarely viewed on delay," said Bill Carroll, svp and director of content strategy for Katz TV Group. "They're loyal, and they watch when the shows air."
Even the high number of failures in the genre from the likes of Queen Latifah, Ricki Lake, Katie Couric and Meredith Vieira—FABLife, the lone fall launch that seemed a lock, saw its host Tyra Banks quit after two months—doesn't seem to be scaring ad dollars away. "Our clients are excited to try something new," explained Martin, adding that the new shows "each have their place. Each of them is going to reach a slightly different audience."
One high-profile launch expected to make noise at the annual Natpe confab, which kicks off in Miami this week, is NBCU's Harry Connick Jr. variety show. Otherwise the syndication marketplace is relatively quiet at the moment, as most shows are in the middle of their typical two-year deals with station groups.
"This is not a year that you're going to see a lot of new shows," said Carroll.
Here's a look at what's on the horizon:
The lone national launch slated for this fall, the Harry Connick Jr. variety series will be led by Fox Television Stations and will include elements from late night including live bands and man-on-the-street interviews.
T.D. Jakes (Tegna)
A one-hour counseling show hosted by Dallas-based pastor T.D. Jakes will air on 29 Tegna stations in markets including Atlanta, Cleveland and Dallas.
Untitled Panel Show with Lisa Rinna (NBCU)
Still in development (a pilot will shoot this month), this pop culture show will feature Rinna and a panel that includes Scott Wolf, Al Jackson and Kelis. Might not debut until fall 2017, but it’s a possible replacement for the recently canceled Meredith Vieira.
The security Brief with Paul Viollis (East 86th Productions)
A true-crime talk show hosted by security expert and former law enforcement official Paul Viollis. The show has been through test runs on a variety of Tegna, Scripps and Sinclair stations, in the hopes of getting a national launch.
Funny You Should Ask (Entertainment Studios)
From Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios, this comedy game show features a panel of professional stand-up comedians who interact with contestants for cash and prizes.
This story first appeared in the Jan. 18 issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.