Cable Marathons Wrecking 'Modern Family'
To: Twentieth Television
From: Ted Stephens, VP and general manager, KCWI-KDMI Des Moines-Ames, Iowa (CW-MNT, DMA 72).
"As a broadcaster I am incensed by how you sold our industry down the river. The double standard you demonstrated in the terms of the syndication rights to Modern Family for cable and broadcasting is nothing short of unethical.
"On Thanksgiving Day, the USA Network ran Modern Family continuously from noon to midnight — 12 hours. It followed that up with four hours on Friday, three and a half hours on Saturday, four on Tuesday and two on Wednesday. That's 25 and a half hours in a single week.
"There are 96 episodes of Modern Family available in syndication. Over those seven days, the USA ran 51 on them — or 53% of those available.
"My contract for the show reads: “Each week shall be comprised of up to twelve (12) half-hour episodes to be delivered for broadcast Monday through Sunday” In other words, broadcasters are limited to six hours per week.
"When I asked my representative from your company why the blatant disparity between my deal and that of the USA, he said, 'we got a ton of money from USA.' I’m sure you did, but at what expense?
"The over-exposure of the program on the USA will burn out the show within a year for both cable and broadcasting.
"The marathon runs of the show have made it easy for viewers to DVR the entire 96 episodes in just a couple of weeks. What good does that do either cable or broadcast?
"I’m certain, when combined, the broadcast rights for Modern Family for all of the 212 DMA’s in the United States adds up to “a ton of money,” too. But when the show doesn’t deliver the ratings for the stations then that ton of money becomes a very poor investment — and that’s exactly what has happened.
"According to CoxReps' November NSI numbers, the show did only a 1.5 household rating — ratings far below what we expected when we negotiated for the rights to the show. Right or wrong, ratings are still the driving force in our industry and you have compromised them for all of the broadcast stations, not to mention your barter advertisers in the show.
"The syndication model for the CW and Fox stations has been totally compromised. No station can project the ratings for an off-network show going into syndication when the syndicator is allowing the cable networks unlimited runs of the same show.
"As far as I’m concerned you have burned a bridge, so good luck 20th when you come around asking for renewals and good luck trying to sell us anything in the future. I don’t care if you get the rights to the next Seinfeld. I’m not interested."