Although it is common parlance to refer to the "selling" or "sale" of a show, this is a misnomer. The shows are actually licensed for a specific number of broadcasts on a station or network. The actual ownership of a show does not change hands and generally remains with the producing entity.
* '''First-run syndication''' refers to programming that is broadcast for the first time as a syndicated show and is made specifically to sell directly into syndicationCampbell, Richard, Christopher R. Martin, and Bettina Fabos. "Sounds and Images." Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2000. 113. (not any one particular network), or at least first so offered in a given country (programs originally created and broadcast outside of the United States, first presented on a network in their country of origin, have often been syndicated in the U.S. and in some other countries);
* '''Off-network syndication''' involves the licensing of a program that was originally run on network television+ or in some cases first-run syndication: a rerun+; these are usually found on stations affiliated with smaller networks like Fox or The CW, especially since these networks broadcast one less hour of prime time+ network programming than the Big Three television networks+. This usually occurs when a show has built up about four seasons worth or a minimum of 85-100 episodes+. Successful shows in syndication can cover production costs and make a profit, even if the first run of the show was not profitable.
* '''Public broadcasting syndication''' has arisen in the U.S. as a parallel service to member stations+ of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS+) and the handful of independent public broadcasting+ stations. This form of syndication more closely resembles the news agency model, where nominally competing networks share resources and rebroadcast each other's programs. For example, National Public Radio+ (NPR) stations commonly air Public Radio International+'s ''This American Life+'', which may contain stories produced by NPR journalists.
When syndicating a show, the production company+, or a distribution company called a syndicator, attempts to license the show to one station in each media market+ or area, or to a commonly owned station group, within the country and internationally. If successful, this can be lucrative; but the syndicator may only be able to license the show in a small percentage of the markets.
Syndication differs from licensing the show to a television network+; once a network picks up a show, it is usually guaranteed to run on most or all the network's affiliates on the same day of the week and at the same time (in a given time zone, in countries where this is a concern). Some production companies create their shows and license them to networks at a loss, at least at first, hoping that the series will succeed and that eventual off-network syndication will turn a profit for the show.
A syndicated program is licensed to stations for "cash" (the stations purchase the rights to insert+ some or all of the advertisements at their level); given to stations for access to airtime (wherein the syndicators get the advertising revenue); or the combination of both. The trade of program for airtime is called "barter+".
While market penetration can vary widely and revenues can be unreliable, the producers often enjoy more content freedom in the absence of network standards and practices+ departments; frequently, some innovative ideas are explored by first-run syndicated programming which the networks are leery of giving airtime to. Meanwhile, top-rated syndicated shows in the United States usually have a domestic market reach as high as 98%.
Very often, series that are aired in syndication have reduced running times. For example, a standard American sitcom runs 22 minutes, but in syndication it may be cut back to 20 minutes to make room for more commercials.
Syndication can take the form of either weekly or daily syndication. Game shows, some "tabloid" and entertainment news shows, and stripped talk shows are broadcast daily on weekdays, while most other first-run syndicated shows are broadcast on a weekly basis and are usually aired on weekends only.
There was a big discussion sometime in the 1990s and 2000s about whether a show could be syndicated while it was still on the air. There had been much opposition to this idea and it was generally viewed as leading to a death of the show; however, licensing a program for syndication it actually resulted in the increased popularity for shows that were still in production. A prime example is ''Law and Order+''.
As with radio in the U.S., television networks, particularly in their early years, did not offer a full day's worth of programming for their affiliates, even in the evening or "prime time+" hours. Some stations were not affiliated with any network, operating as independent stations+. Both groups sought to supplement their locally produced programming and whatever network feeds there were with content that could be flexibly scheduled. The development of videotape+ and, much later, enhanced satellite+ downlink access furthered these options. While most past first-run syndicated shows were shown only in syndication, some canceled network shows continued to be produced for first-run syndication or were revived for syndication several years after their original cancellation.
Ziv Television Programs, Inc.+, after establishing itself as a major radio syndicator, was the first major first-run television syndicator, creating several long-lived series in the 1950s and selling them directly to regional sponsors, who in turn sold the shows to local stations. Among the most famous and widely watched Ziv offerings were ''Sea Hunt+'', ''I Led Three Lives+'' and ''Highway Patrol+''. Some first-run syndicated series were picked up by networks in the 1950s and early 1960s, notably ''The Adventures of Superman+'' and ''Mr. Ed+''. The networks started syndicating their reruns in the late 1950s, and first-run syndication shrank sharply, for a decade. Some stalwart series continued, notably ''Death Valley Days+''; other ambitious projects were also to flourish, however briefly, such as ''The Play of the Week'' (1959–1961), produced by David Susskind (of the syndicated talk show ''Open End'' and also producer of such network fare as ''NYPD'').
However, FCC+ rulings in the late 1960s curtailed the U.S. networks' ability to schedule programming in what has become known as the "early fringe", notably the 7–8 p.m. (Eastern+ and Pacific Time+) hour of "prime time", with the stated hope that this might encourage more local programming of social and cultural relevance to communities (off-network syndicated repeats were also banned); some projects of this sort came to fruition, though usually relatively commercial and slick ones such as Group W+'s ''Evening Magazine/PM Magazine+'' franchise, and such pre-existing national projects as the brief commercial-television run of William F. Buckley, Jr.+'s interview/debate series ''Firing Line+''. The more obvious result was an increase in Canadian-produced syndicated dramatic series, such as ''Dusty's Trail+'' and the Colgate+-sponsored ''Dr. Simon Locke+''. Game shows, often evening editions of network afternoon series, flourished, and a few odd items such as ''Wild Kingdom+'', canceled by NBC+ in 1971, had a continuing life as syndicated programming tailor-made for the early fringe.
In 1971, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission+ passed the Prime Time Access Rule+ and Financial Interest and Syndication Rules+, which prevented networks from programming one particular hour of prime time programming on its television stations each night and required the networks to spin off their syndication arms as independent companies. Although the intent of the rule was to encourage local stations to produce their own programs for this time slot, budgetary limits instead prompted stations to buy syndicated programs to fill the slot. This, coupled with an increase in UHF independent stations+, caused a boom in the syndication market.
Into the 1970s, first-run syndication continued to be an odd mix: cheaply produced, but not always poor quality, "filler" programming. These included the dance-music show ''Soul Train+'', and 20th Century Fox+'s ''That's Hollywood'', a television variation on the popular ''That's Entertainment!+'' theatrically released collections of film clips from the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer+ library.
Game show+s thrived in syndication during the decade. Weekdaily versions of ''What's My Line?+'', ''Truth or Consequences+'' and ''To Tell the Truth+'' premiered in the late 1960s and found loyal audiences for many years. Several daytime network games began producing once-a-week nighttime versions for broadcast in the early evening hours, usually with bigger prizes and often featuring different hosts (emcees were limited to appearing on one network and one syndicated game simultaneously) and modified titles (''Match Game+ PM'', ''The $100,000 Name That Tune+'' or ''The $25,000 Pyramid+'', for example). A few independent game shows, such as ''Sports Challenge+'' and ''Celebrity Bowling+'', also entered the syndication market around this time Of these shows, ''Let's Make a Deal+'' and ''Hollywood Squares+'' were the first to jump to twice-a-week syndicated versions around 1973. Another popular daytime show to have a weekly syndicated version was ''The Price Is Right+'', which began concurrently in weekly syndication and on CBS+; the syndicated "nighttime" version was hosted by Dennis James+ for its first five years, after which daytime host Bob Barker+ took over for another three years of weekly episodes (even though, by this point, the daytime and nighttime shows had diverged noticeably). The nighttime version of ''Family Feud+'' (1977) quickly jumped from once-weekly to twice, and finally to five-day-a-week airings, and its massive popularity, along with that of new five-day-a-week entries like Jack Barry's ''The Joker's Wild+'' (1977) and ''Tic-Tac-Dough+'' (1978) and Chuck Barris+'s increasingly raunchy remakes of his 1960s hits ''The Newlywed Game+'' and ''The Dating Game+'', brought an end (with rare exceptions) to the era of once-a-week games. Also popular in first-run syndication and daytime was ''The Gong Show+'', hosted by Barris throughout most of its run (Gary Owens+ hosted the first syndicated season).
The Universal+/Paramount+-produced package of original programming, ''Operation Prime Time+'', began appearing on ''ad hoc'' quasi-networks of (almost by necessity) non-network stations in the U.S. in 1978, with a mini-series adaptation of John Jakes+'s ''The Bastard''.
From the latter 1960s into the late 1970s, Westinghouse also found considerable success with ''The Mike Douglas Show+'', a variety/talk show hosted by a singer with an easygoing interview style, which aired in the afternoons in most markets; similar programs soon followed featuring Merv Griffin+, who had been the host of CBS+'s most sustained late-night answer to ''The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson+'' previously, and another network veteran, Dinah Shore+. Also notable was the growing success of audience-participation talk shows, particularly that of the innovator of the format, Phil Donahue+.
First-run syndication in the 1970s also made it possible for some shows that were no longer wanted by television networks to remain on the air. In 1971, ABC+ canceled ''The Lawrence Welk Show+'', which went on to produce new episodes in syndication for another 11 years, and currently continues to much success in weekend reruns (with new segments featuring Welk cast members inserted within the episodes) distributed to PBS+ stations by the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority+. Also in 1971, CBS dropped ''Lassie+'' and ''Hee Haw+'', the latter show's run ending as part of the network's cancellation of all of its rural+-oriented shows (known then as "rural purge+", which also resulted in the cancellations of ''The Beverly Hillbillies+'' and ''Green Acres+''). ''Lassie'' entered first-run syndication for two years, while ''Hee Haw'' continued to produce new episodes until 1992.
The broadcast networks aired many action-adventure+ programs from the 1950s to the 1980s. By the late 1980s, however, increasing production costs made them less attractive to the networks. Studios found that reruns of one-hour dramas did not sell as well as sitcoms, so they were unable to fully recoup the shows' costs using the traditional deficit financing+ model. Such shows instead moved to syndication, starting with ''Star Trek: The Next Generation+'', which debuted in 1987 and became one of the most watched syndicated shows throughout its seven-year run. Its great success caused many others to debut; by 1994, there were more than 20 one-hour syndicated shows.
When NBC canceled the television series adaptation of ''Fame+'' after only two seasons, the producers made special arrangements with LBS Communications+, which resulted in MGM reviving the series for first-run syndication in the fall of 1983, where it continued for four more seasons, with the last first-run episode airing in the U.S. on May 18, 1987. ''Friday the 13th: The Series+'' (a horror series which shared its title with the successful movie+ franchise) also debuted in 1987. The next syndicated shows that debuted in 1988 were ''War of the Worlds+'' and ''Freddy's Nightmares+''.
During the late 1970s and 1980s, independent stations signed on in mid-sized and many small markets. The market for made-for-television cartoons grew as a result to include a branch for such stations. It usually had a greater artistic freedom, and looser standards (not mandated by a network).
In 1987, The Walt Disney Company+ tried its luck at syndication; ''DuckTales+'' premiered that September and would eventually last for 100 episodes. The success of ''DuckTales'' paved the way for a second series two years later, ''Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers+''. The following year, the two shows aired together under the umbrella block ''The Disney Afternoon+''. In fall of 1990, Disney added another hour to ''The Disney Afternoon''; the block continued in syndication, running additional first-run animated series until 1999.
These cartoons initially competed with the ones that were nationally televised on the broadcast networks. In the 1980s, national broadcast networks only aired cartoons on Saturday mornings+, not competing with the weekday and Sunday syndication blocks aired by local independent stations; however, by the 1990s, Fox and then The WB+ launched their own weekday afternoon children's program blocks. By the end of the 1990s, both syndication distributors and broadcast networks ended up losing most of its children's market to the rise of cable television+ channels aimed at that audience such as Nickelodeon+ and Cartoon Network+, which provided appealing children's entertainment throughout the week at nearly all hours.
Syndication remains a method of choice for distributing children's programming, although this has gradually shifted to only produce programs to satisfy the federally mandated "educational-informational+" (E/I) rule imposed in the late 1990s as part of an amendment to the Children's Television Act of 1990+ that requires stations to air three hours of educational children's programs every week, regardless of the station's format. Syndication is generally a less expensive option for a local station than to attempt to produce its own locally originated E/I programming; not all networks provide their own E/I programs, so stations that are affiliated with networks that do not carry children's program blocks acquire E/I programs off the syndication market to fulfill the requirements.
Also in the 1980s, news programming of various sorts began to be offered widely to stations. ''Independent Network News+'', which was produced by WPIX+ in New York City, was a half-hour weekdaily program that ran from 1980 to 1990 on independent station+s (in some markets, ''INN'' was paired with a locally produced primetime newscast); CNN+ would offer a simulcast of programming from its sister network Headline News (now HLN+) to broadcast stations later, though it was used mainly to fill overnight time periods and was effectively discontinued in syndication with the 2006 launch of that network's "Headline Prime" talk show block. ''Entertainment Tonight+'' began its long and continuing run as a "soft" news daily strip, with a number of imitations following (among which have included such entertainment news shows as ''TMZ on TV+'', ''Extra+'' and ''ET''': s own spin-off ''The Insider+''); and "tabloid" television, in the wake of ABC+'s ''20/20+'' and, more immediately, Twentieth Television+'s ''A Current Affair+'', would become a syndication staple with such series as ''Hard Copy+'' and ''Real TV+''.
Long before their popularity on network television from the 2000s onward, reality competition shows in one form or another, such as ''Star Search+'' and ''American Gladiators+'', enjoyed popularity in syndication as early as the mid-1980s.
Since the now-defunct networks UPN+ and The WB began offering their affiliates additional nights of prime time+ programming in the late 1990s, there have been fewer first-run scripted series in syndication, at least, in the U.S.; much as with the closing of windows that provided opportunity for Ziv in the 1950s and various producers in the early 1970s. The more expensive dramatic projects are less attractive to syndicators (particularly when they might be sold, with somewhat less risk, to cable channels); "reality" series such as ''Cheaters+'' and ''Maximum Exposure+'' and several dating series began to be more common in the early 2000s. Some of the more low-key programs in this category were designed to appeal to children, such as ''Beakman's World+'', ''Animal Rescue'' and ''Jack Hanna's Animal Adventures+''. They were able to get significant clearance because of stricter Federal Communications Commission+ (FCC) enforcement of rules on children's television+ programming.
Several game show+s are currently syndicated; the most popular by far are ''Wheel of Fortune+'' and the current version of ''Jeopardy!+'', both created by television personality+Merv Griffin+, respectively premiering in 1983 and 1984. The shows have been #1 and #2 or #1 to #3 in the syndication ratings consistently since at least the late 1980s. In fact, according to the ''Guinness Book of World Records+'', ''Wheel'' is the most popular syndicated television program both within and outside of the United States. ''Family Feud+'' ended its first syndication run in 1985. Three years later, a revival of the program became a moderate hit and continued for seven seasons. A third revival hit the airwaves in 1999 and has gone through four hosts . The first three hosts (Louie Anderson+, Richard Karn+ and John O'Hurley+) struggled in their respective runs and only lasted three to four years each, but ratings for ''Family Feud'' began to skyrocket after Steve Harvey+ took over as host in 2010.
A ''Hollywood Squares+'' revival also thrived beginning in 1998, running six seasons until its 2004 cancellation. By far the most successful entry into the market in the 2000s has been the daily version of ''Who Wants to Be a Millionaire+'', which premiered in 2002.
Because game shows are very inexpensive to produce, with many episodes completed each day of production, successful ones are very profitable; for example, in 1988 ''Jeopardy!'' cost an estimated $5 million to produce but earned almost $50 million in revenue. New game show concepts (that is, not based on an existing or pre-existing format) are rarely tried and usually unsuccessful in syndication; somewhat of an exception to this was ''Street Smarts+'', which lasted from 2001 to 2006 (despite the series airing in late night slots in many markets). Between 2003 and 2007, no new game shows debuted in syndication, marking four consecutive seasons where no new shows with that genre debuted, a syndication first. That streak ended with the fall 2007 debuts of ''Temptation+'' and ''Merv Griffin's Crosswords+'', bringing the daytime tally to six game shows; both ended production after one year, though ''Crosswords'' aired in reruns in some cities during the 2008–09 season before those reruns moved exclusively to cable.
More new shows were added for the 2008–09 fall season, including a daytime run of ''Deal or No Deal+'' (which featured certain elements that differed from the show's franchised format, most notably with prospective players instead of models holding briefcases that held the monetary amounts) and an adaptation+ of the popular board game ''Trivial Pursuit+''. While ''Deal'' caught on and was renewed for the 2009–2010 season, ''Trivial Pursuit: America Plays+'' suffered low ratings throughout its run and was canceled.
For the 2009–2010 season, the Fox game show ''Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?+'' moved to syndication with a new, less expensive format. ''Don't Forget the Lyrics!+'' followed for the 2010–2011 season. ''Deal'', suffering from falling ratings, was canceled in February 2010, with the final episodes airing in late May of that same year. ''5th Grader'' and ''Don't Forget the Lyrics'' were canceled the following year for the same reason (although reruns of ''5th Grader'' remain on cable). Reruns of the popular Discovery Channel+ show ''Cash Cab+'' began airing in syndication in January 2011. Reruns of the GSN+ dating game show ''Baggage+'' first aired in syndication as a test run in early 2011 on stations owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group+, which preceded its full launch into other markets in fall 2012; although it was removed from syndication after one season.
The dominant form of first-run syndication in the U.S. for the last three decades has been the stripped+ talk show, such as ''Donahue+'', ''Oprah Winfrey+'', ''The Tyra Banks Show+'', and ''The Jerry Springer Show+''. As with game shows, talk shows are inexpensive to produce and very profitable if successful. In many markets, a stripped show will be seen twice daily, usually with different episodes (one being a more recent episode and the other being an episode from a previous season). Sometimes, station groups with more than one station in a market, or a "duopoly+", will run one episode of a strip on one of their stations in the morning, and the other available episode on another of their stations that night.
Meanwhile, the popularity of some of the audience-participation talk shows continues to encourage new participants, some of whom, such as Morton Downey, Jr.+ and Rosie O'Donnell+, have brief periods of impressive ratings and influence; others, such as Oprah Winfrey+ and Maury Povich+, have a sustained run. A notable scheduling decision was made by KRON-TV+ in San Francisco+: a 2000 dispute with NBC led to that station's disaffiliation from that network after 52 years, and since all the other larger networks were already represented in San Francisco, KRON decided to become one of the largest commercial independent stations by market size on the VHF+ band in the U.S., and soon tried running ''Dr. Phil+'', a popular new stripped series hosted by Winfrey-associate Phil McGraw, in primetime, with impressive ratings results.
In earlier times, independent stations thrived on syndicated programming, including some venerable and quite profitable stations such as KMSP-TV+ in the Minneapolis-St. Paul+ market. With the loosening of FCC regulations and the creation of new additional broadcast networks (such as Fox+, The CW+, MyNetworkTV+ and Ion Television+), most of these independents have joined one or another of these or smaller (religious or low-budget) networks.
In another case, like those of KCAL-TV+ in Los Angeles+, KMCI-TV+ in Lawrence+-Kansas City+ and WMLW-TV+ in Racine+-Milwaukee+, those independent stations are used to complement their network-affiliated sister station (respectively in the mentioned cases, KCBS-TV+, KSHB-TV+ and WDJT-TV+) by allowing a duopoly control of more syndicated programming than would be possible on one station (and to spread it throughout the schedule of the two stations, often several times a day), or to air news programming in times unavailable on the larger network station, along with fulfilling network and syndicated programming commitments, which allows popular or network programming to be moved to the independent stations due to breaking news or sports commitments without the traditional inconvenience of a late night or weekend airing of the pre-empted show. A duopoly of a network-affiliated and independent station also allows a network station to move a low-rated syndicated program to their sister independent station to stem revenue losses.
Off-network syndication occurs when a network television show is syndicated in packages containing some or all episodes, and sold to as many television stations and markets as possible to be used in local programming timeslots. In this manner, sitcoms+ are preferred and more successful because they are less serialized+, and can be run non-sequentially, which is more beneficial and less costly for the station. In the United States, local stations now rarely broadcast reruns of primetime dramas (or simply air them primarily on weekends); instead, they usually air on basic cable+ channels, which may air each episode 30 to 60 times.
Syndication rights typically last for six consecutive showings of a series within three to five years; if a program continues to perform well enough in broadcast or cable syndication during the initial cycle, television stations or cable networks can opt to renew an off-network program for an additional cycle.
Syndication has been known to spur the popularity of a series that only experienced moderate success during its original network run. The most notable example of this is ''Star Trek+'', which ran for three seasons on NBC from 1966 to 1969, garnering only modest ratings, but became a worldwide cult phenomenon after it entered off-network syndication. Its success in syndication led to the ''Star Trek'' film series+, ''Star Trek: The Next Generation+'', and several other series.
It is common for long-running series to have early seasons syndicated while the series itself is still in first-run network production. In order to differentiate between new and rebroadcast content, up until the 1980s it was not uncommon for series to be syndicated under a different title than that used in their original broadcast run. Examples include ''Bonanza+'' (which was syndicated as ''Ponderosa''), ''Gunsmoke+'' (as ''Marshall Dillon''), ''Emergency!+'' (as ''Emergency One'') and ''Happy Days+'' (as ''Happy Days Again'').
Syndication of older episodes can also increase exposure for a television show that is still airing first-run network episodes. In the case of the CBS+ sitcom ''The Big Bang Theory+'', its syndication, particularly on TBS+, is one of the reasons attributed for a rise in first-run ratings for its sixth season. The sixth season episode "The Bakersfield Expedition+", for example, was the first episode of that series to attract 20 million viewers.Schneider, Michael (January 28, 2013). "Bigger ''Bang'' Than Ever". ''TV Guide''. pp. 6 and 7.
Off-network syndication can take several forms. The most common form is known as strip syndication+ or daily syndication, when episodes of a television series are shown daily five times a week in the same time slot. In the 1960s and 1970s, independent stations with no news departments began viewing strip syndication as a necessary means of obtaining effective counterprogramming+ to the local news programs airing on network affiliates. Typically, this means that enough episodes must exist (88 episodes, or four seasons, is the usual minimum,Gerbrandt, Larry. "" ''The Hollywood Reporter'', 19 March 2010. though many syndicators prefer a fully rounded 100 episodes+) to allow for continual strip syndication to take place over the course of several months, without episodes being repeated. However, there are exceptions, such as the 65-episode block (common in children's programming), which allows for a 13-week cycle of daily showings, so there will only be four repeats in a year.
In some cases, more than one episode is shown daily. Half-hour sitcoms are sometimes syndicated in groups of two or four episodes, taking up one or two hours of broadcast time.
If a series is not strip syndicated, it may be aired once a week, instead of five times a week. This allows shows with fewer episodes to last long in syndication, but it also may mean viewers will tire of waiting a week for the next episode of a show they have already seen and stop watching. More often, hour-long dramas in their first several runs in syndication are offered weekly; sitcoms+ are more likely to get stripped. In recent years, there has been something of a trend toward showing two consecutive episodes of a program on Saturday and Sunday nights after prime time+ (generally following the local news). This pattern has been particularly prominent for shows which are still in production but have run long enough to have many previous episodes available.
As with commercial stations, not all the airtime nor all the perceived audience are met by the productions offered U.S. public-broadcasting stations by PBS+; additionally, there are some independent public television stations in the U.S. which take no programming from that (somewhat) decentralized network. As a result, there are several syndicators of programming for the non-profit stations, several of which are descendants of the regional station groups which combined some, not all, of their functions into the creation of PBS in 1969. American Public Television+ (APT) is the largest of these, nearly matched by the National Educational Telecommunications Association; similarly, the recently defunct Continental Program Marketing+ was another of the syndicator-descendants (of the Northeastern, Southeastern, and Rocky Mountain educational networks, respectively) of the pre-PBS era. Among the other notable organizations in the U.S. are Westlink Satellite Operations+ (based at Albuquerque's KNME+), BBC Worldwide Americas+ (which often works with other distributors and individual stations, since it has no satellite access of its own in the U.S.), Deutsche Welle+, Executive Program Services+, the Program Resource Group+ and PBS's Long Island, New York+ member station WLIW+, which is (with the arguable exception of KNME) the most prolific contributor of any individual station of syndicated programming, most obviously the ''BBC World News+'', ''Doctor Who+'' and ''Monty Python's Flying Circus+'' in the U.S.
In 1993, Universal Studios+ became one of the first studios to cash in on the cable trend, first selling repeats of ''Major Dad+'' to USA Network+ in 1993 for $600,000 per episode, the first time a network program was exclusively sold to a cable network for its first run rights. Later it sold reruns of ''Law and Order+'' to A&E+ for about $155,000 an episode; in 1996, the studio got $275,000 from USA Network+ for repeats of ''New York Undercover+'', a far less successful show. ''Law and Order'' drew A&E's highest daytime ratings – one million viewers per episode.
USA Network+ paid $750,000 for the rights to ''Walker, Texas Ranger+''; while USA's reruns of the show drew an average of 2.3 million viewers – outstanding by cable standards – Perth says the show will need ''an enormous number of airings to have any sort of profitability."
;Dramatic reruns: Rerun Prices at a Glance
Sources: Industry sources and Paul Kagan Associates, Inc. Per episode
Not all programs in syndication are sold for a fee. Less popular programming may be distributed by ''barter'', in which the syndicator, instead of selling the show to a station, offers the show for free, with the caveat that the station give up its advertising time on other shows to the syndicator's advertisers. Barter syndication, in addition to the cost advantage, is popular because of its flexibility; a station can typically pick up a barter syndicated program for only a few weeks or months, without the long-term financial commitment of a traditional syndicated series, allowing the station to plug the show into its lineup to fill a hole in the schedule.
'''Cash deals''' are when a distributor offers a syndicated program to the highest bidder. A cash plus deal is when the distributor retains advertising space to offset some of the cost for the program. The station gets the program for a little less in exchange for some ad space for the producer.
'''Barter deals''' are usually for new untested shows or older shows. In this type of deal, distributors get a fraction of the advertisement revenue in exchange for their program. For example, in a 7/5 deal the producer gets seven minutes of advertising time, leaving five minutes for the station to insert local as well as national advertisements.
Syndication is particularly popular in talk radio+. While syndicated music shows (with the exception of some evening and overnight shows such as ''Delilah'' mentioned above) tend to air once a week and are mostly recorded, most popular talk radio programs are syndicated daily and are broadcast live. Also, with relatively few 24-hour live talk radio networks (though this, in recent times, has been changing), most radio stations are free to assemble their own lineup of talk show hosts+ as they so choose. Examples of syndicated talk programs are Premiere Networks' ''The Bob and Tom Show+'', Dial Global's ''The Jim Bohannon Show+'', and the self-syndicated ''The Dave Ramsey Show+'' (more recently, talk networks such as Talk Radio Network+ have been marketing and packaging all-day lineups, marking a departure from the syndication model; as such, popular shows such as Cumulus Media Networks+' ''The Savage Nation+'' and Premiere's ''The Rush Limbaugh Show+'' now air as part of a broader network lineup in many markets, particularly on Premiere owned-and-operated station+s, though they continue to be syndicated to non-network stations as well). Talk syndication tends to be more prevalent because voice tracking+, a practice used by many music stations to have disc jockeys host multiple supposedly local shows at once, is not feasible with live talk radio.
Some (in fact, most) radio programs are also offered on a barter system usually at no charge to the radio station. The system is used for live programming or preproduced programs and include a mixture of ad time sold by the program producer as well as time set aside for the radio station to sell.
Before radio networks matured in the United States+, some early radio shows were reproduced on transcription disks+ and mailed to individual stations. An example of syndication using this method was RadiOzark Enterprises, Inc. based in Springfield, Missouri+, co-owned with KWTO+. The Assembly of God+, with national headquarters in Springfield, sponsored a half-hour program on the station called ''Sermons in Song.'' RadiOzark began transcribing the show for other stations in the 1940s, and eventually 200 stations carried the program. The company later produced country music+ programs starring among others, Smiley Burnette+, George Morgan+, Bill Ring and Tennessee Ernie Ford+ (260 15-minute episodes of ''The Tennessee Ernie Show'' were distributed), and more than 1,200 U.S. and Canadian stations aired the programs.
Many syndicated radio programs were distributed through the U.S. mail+ or another delivery service, although the medium changed as technology developed, going from transcription disks to phonograph records, tape recordings+, cassette tapes and eventually CDs. Many smaller weekend programs still use this method to this day, though with the rise of the Internet, many stations have since opted to distribute programs via CD-quality MP3+s through FTP+ downloads.
It was not until the advent of satellite communications+ in the 1980s that live syndication became popular (though it could be transmitted through network lines, it was not particularly common because of cost, network congestion and quality issues). Since then, most syndicated radio programs are distributed using satellite subcarrier audio+ technology. Shortly after satellite networks such as RKO+, Transtar+ and SMN+ began, the Fairness Doctrine+ was repealed, which is credited with helping Rush Limbaugh+ become the first national talk radio superstar. At the same time, the FCC began issuing more FM radio+ licenses to suburban and rural areas in the late 1980s, which allowed more room for music stations on the FM dial; radio formats+ such as country music+ that were traditionally AM fixtures even after most pop and rock music moved to FM were now moving to FM as well, leaving much more room for talk formats on the AM dial. As the 1990s went on, Dr. Laura+ and Howard Stern+ began their national shows, rising to become national icons. The Telecommunications Act of 1996+, which led to significant concentration of media ownership+, facilitated the rapid deployment of both existing and new syndicated programs in the late 1990s, putting syndication on par with, and eventually surpassing, the network radio+ format.
After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks+, syndicated talk radio saw a notably rapid rise in popularity, as networks rushed new national shows into syndication to meet the demand for discussion of national issues. Many of these, such as Laura Ingraham+, Bill O'Reilly+, Sean Hannity+ and Glenn Beck+, were mostly supportive of the actions of the Republican+-led government; a few others, such as Alex Jones+, were openly critical of the government's actions and motives. After the Democrats+ took control in the late 2000s, the gap between the two styles narrowed due to the mutual opposition of both camps to the government's actions, which allowed Jones greater clearance on stations.
In contrast to conservative talk radio+, which has predominantly been driven by syndication, progressive talk radio+ has almost always been a network-driven model. The incompatibility of conservative and progressive ideologies and the lack of syndicated progressive hosts required solutions that could produce all-day programming to individual stations. It was not until Air America Radio+ launched in 2004 that progressive talk would become viable; though it failed several years later, Dial Global now carries a network slate that is carried on most progressive talk stations. Sports radio+ is likewise mostly a network phenomenon, partially because the irregular nature of sports preemptions makes having a full-time network to be able to cut into and join in progress at any time highly convenient.
Syndicated radio is not as popular in other parts of the world. Canada+ has a few independently syndicated shows, but the bulk of syndicated content there comes from the United States, and the sum total of syndicated programming is far less than most American stations, as Canadian stations rely more heavily on local content. Most other countries still follow the network radio model.
Syndication also applies to international markets. Same language countries often syndicate programs to each other – such as programs from the United Kingdom being syndicated to Australia and vice versa. Another example would be programs from the United Kingdom, Mexico+, Brazil+, and Argentina+ being syndicated to local television stations in the United States, and programs from the United States being syndicated elsewhere in the world.
One of the best-known internationally syndicated television series has been ''The Muppet Show+'', which was produced by Grade's English ITV+ franchise company ATV+ at Elstree Studios+ in Hertfordshire+, and was shown around the world, including the United States, where it aired in syndication on PBS+, and Canada, where CBC Television+ aired the show. The 1970s was a time when many British comedies, including ''The Benny Hill Show+'' and ''Monty Python's Flying Circus+'' were syndicated to the United States and worldwide. Many soaps and long-running series are also successfully syndicated around the globe.
The hit television show ''CSI+'' earned $1.6 million per episode in its first cycle in cable syndication. There were many different versions of the show making it an international success. It was already popular in the U.S., so becoming a success internationally as well as within the U.S. made syndication sensible. Whether a series is produced in the U.S. or not is based on the economic value and potential viability of its sales internationally with the possibility of syndication.
Economic factors that influence production outside the U.S. play a major role in deciding if a television show will be syndicated, internally and internationally. International syndication has sustained a growing of prosperity and monetary value amongst the distributors who sell to them. Due to a rise in competition, syndicators have upheld high standards for different countries to buy the rights to distribute shows. During the 1990s poor ratings were popular amongst syndicated shows, but distributors still made it possible for international competition to happen and buy U.S. shows.
Because of the structural differences discussed above, there are presently very few areas where a true U.S.-style syndication model operates, whereby programs are sold on a per-area basis (within a single country) to local or regional stations with differing (or no) network affiliations.
Canada was historically one of the few exceptions. Until the mid-1990s, television stations in Canada, like those in the U.S., were typically run as separate local operations, with a small number of moderately sized ownership groups such as Baton+, CanWest+, WIC+, and CHUM+. Those stations that were affiliated with a national network, i.e. CBC+ or CTV+, did not always receive a full schedule of programming from that network.
At this time, it was not uncommon for U.S. syndicators to treat Canada as an extension of their domestic syndication operations, for both their first-run and off-network offerings. This is still the case for American radio programs; Canadian radio networks are not assembled as rigidly into networks (except for the CBC's radio division). However, an alternate form of first-run syndication was performed by some domestic broadcasters: as the Canadian rights to U.S. primetime series were often acquired by individual station groups (as opposed to full-fledged national networks), they would in turn resell local rights for those programs to stations in areas where they did not operate.
Since the late 1990s, as most stations have been consolidated into national networks consisting almost entirely of owned-and-operated station+s and with full-day network schedules, both types of syndication have largely disappeared from the Canadian broadcast landscape. Programs that are sold in syndication in the U.S. are now generally sold to national Canadian networks to air across all their stations, with per-market sales now being very rare (the minor exception being the few remaining independent stations that exist in Canada, such as CHCH-DT+ in Hamilton, Ontario+). ''The Oprah Winfrey Show+'' appears to have been the last significant holdout to this model (prior to its 2011 conclusion), having aired primarily on CTV stations, but in some markets airing instead on a Global+ station, and even some CBC affiliates.
There are three key reasons why a radio station will decide to pick up a syndicated show – the program is unique and difficult to replicate content, has a decent ratings track record, and whether or not it has a celebrity host.
New developing radio programs are generally able to claim one of these attributes, but not all three. Regional syndication attempts to replace these benchmark attributes with other benefits that are generally recognized by the industry as also being important. Given the financial downturn within the industry, the need for quality cost effective locally relevant programming is greater than ever before. Programs that offer regionally specific content while providing the economic benefits of syndication can be especially appealing to potential affiliates. Regional syndication can also be more attractive to area advertisers who share a common regional trading area versus assembling a radio network of stations that hopscotch across the United States.
Broadcast syndication+ In broadcasting, syndication is the sale of the right to broadcast television and radio programs by multiple television and radio stations, without going through a broadcast network.