Friday, August 15, 2008


Hey everyone,

I've been sick for the past week, which has caused me not to do anything, except have one job interview today. That is the first time I left the apartment since Sunday. Gross.

Anyway, I promised I would talk a bit about tv syndication. While I can't delve into incredible detail, I'll do a cursory explanation.

First, as previously discussed, we know a network does not produce programming. Either a studio or production company, usually both, produces programming.

Then, that studio sells the rights to that show for a specific length of time to a network. The network buys the rights to the programming for roughly half what the studio pays to make the programming.

Let me go back for a moment. The average half hour programming costs roughly 1.5 million, an hour long program costs 3 million.

For ease, let's talk about an hour long program. And let's take the 24 as an example.

***These numbers are hypothetical***

STUDIO produces SHOW. Each episode costs 3 million dollars to make. And they have sold the rights to NETWORK to broadcast the show for 1.5 million dollars.

Which means, for every episode that goes out the door and onto NETWORK, STUDIO loses 1.5 million dollars.

So, how do they make that money back? Well, usually they don't. Most shows do not hit syndication. However, since SHOW will, we will discuss that.

Once SHOW hits roughly 100 shows (this number has lowered in recent years), stations now has an interest in buying the rights to show that program in syndication, or OVER AND OVER a la Scrubs, Office, Simpsons, Friends, Seinfeld, etc.)

So, if the show is now in deficit for 1.5 million an episode, they can sell the rights to the show station to station in every station around the country. Let's say a 10 STATIONS across the country buy the rights to the show for 500,000 dollars a piece.

Remember, an episode still cost $3 million to make. but now NETWORK has paid 1.5 million to distribute the show. Now, 10 STATIONS have paid $500,000 an episode to distribute the show in syndication.



Cost of Show: 3 million
Fox pays: 1.5 million
-1.5 million

Stations paying for syndication

10 Stations 500 thousand
x 10 stations
5 million

Post Syndication:

Deficit -1.5 million
Syndication+ 5 million
+3.5 million

Now, you can see, that if you hit syndication for an episode of SHOW, you will be in the black by 3.5 million dollars, an episode. On 100 episode show, that's a lot of money that a studio can rake in.

However, almost NO shows hit syndication. So, studios LOSE money on almost all of their shows.

So, a show not only has to be successful for a network, in order for a studio to reclaim their money, the show has to hit syndication. Because, as we now know, a HIT for a network means NOTHING to a studio.

Of course, some smaller networks have a network and studio under the same roof, like Nickelodeon. However, we are simply speaking of networks that have separate studios/networks.

Now, maybe you will understand why studios gravitate towards the few show-runners who are proven commodities.