All Eyes On 2015's Many Syndie Opportunities
At the PromaxBDA Station Summit in Las Vegas this week, syndication executives are doing their best to get local TV marketers excited about promoting their new and returning shows this fall.
But elsewhere, syndication talk centers on what might happen next fall — 2015.
With the start of that season still 14 months away, five of the seven major syndicators are far along in developing new first-run shows, mostly talk, for whatever holes appear on TV stations’ daytime schedules.
And at least three stations groups — Gannett, Raycom Media and E.W. Scripps — are prepping shows of their own that they hope will break out into wider syndication.
“It’s silly season,” says one station group executive who has been hearing all the pitches. “Everybody’s got a show.”
“There will be opportunities in 2015,” says a syndication executive. “There may be a hole on CBS stations to replace Queen Latifah [in 2015]. If Meredith Vieira doesn’t work [this fall], that will be an opportunity on NBC stations. There’s probably an opportunity for the Katie time periods on ABC. On Tribune, they got rid of The Test.”
Earlier this month, Disney-ABC got the ball rolling with a pitch to stations on a Tyra Banks-hosted panel talk show.
Disney-ABC’s Tyra Banks show is seen as a replacement for Katie on the ABC Owned Television Stations, although an ABC spokesperson insists that the station group hasn’t officially picked up the show yet.
“They announced Tyra, but whether or not that actually happens is a different matter,” says a rival syndication executive. “Everyone is perplexed by that.”
After two ho-hum seasons, Katie called it quits this spring. While awaiting a permanent replacement in 2015, the ABC stations will air other programming like Disney-ABC’s long-standing Who Wants to be a Millionaire during the upcoming season.
CBS Television Distribution is developing a multi-host talk show with actor Jerry O’Connell. He frequently guest co-hosts Disney-ABC’s Live with Kelly & Michael and CTD’s own Rachael Ray. CTD doesn’t comment on development, a spokesperson says.
Warner Bros., whose Ellen just had its most-watched season, is developing a talk show for fall 2015, a spokesperson confirmed without offering any details.
Fox TV Stations is expected to announce thay it will test this summer one or more of the shows it has in development. It could be an interactive show in which viewers call into a panel of celebrities for advice on life issues. Working title: Help Line.
Last summer, Fox TV Stations tested Twentieth’s Kris Jenner Show, but decided not to move forward with it.
The Fox O&Os may also test shows this summer from syndicators other than Twentieth, according to sources.
In summer 2008, Fox TV Stations ignited the syndication test-run trend with Debmar-Mercury’s Wendy Williams Show.
Sony Pictures Television is said to be considering a variety of projects for 2015, including a half-hour strip of some kind. A spokesperson for Sony would not comment.
Syndication executives speculate that Sony may be working on game shows. Sony produces top-rated syndicated game shows Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, both of which CBS Television Distribution distributes.
Debmar-Mercury recently struck a deal to develop shows with station group Gannett. That partnership could result in shows that it will test as early as this year for a possible fall 2015 rollout.
Tribune was developing a Bill Cunningham spinoff for fall 2015 with Siggy Flicker, a frequent guest on the show, according to sources. But that show isn’t expected to move forward. A spokesperson for Tribune declined comment.
There is also talk that Tribune may collaborate with Sinclair Broadcast Group. With many stations in complementary markets, the two groups could reach enough TV homes to move forward with a show without the help of any other broadcaster.
E.W. Scripps is developing a first-run show for fall 2015, in addition to a 4 p.m. show the station group will soon launch on some of its stations, according to syndication executives. A spokesperson for Scripps did not respond to questions about the shows.
And station group Raycom is moving ahead with two strips from partner production company Bellum this fall on some of its stations. If successful, Flip My Food (cooking) and Fix It and Finish It (home remodeling) will roll out to more stations in fall 2015.
How many new shows make it to air depends in large part on how many shows are not renewed for 2015 due to lack of interest among viewers and broadcasters.
Sony’s Queen Latifah, Disney-ABC’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire and Debmar-Mercury’s new game show Celebrity Name Game with Craig Ferguson will be up for renewals after this season with no guarantees they will get them.
Two new rookies this fall, NBCUniversal’s Meredith Vieira Show and CTD’s court show Hot Bench, have been picked up by some stations for one year while others signed two-year deals.