January 18, 2007
New Statistics and Initiatives Meant to Revitalize Syndicated Programming's Relationship with Affiliates, Advertisers

Syndicated content may have a stronger connection with its audience, a new piece of advocacy research finds, while syndicators are striving to find new ways to reach a majority of Americans, including using broadband video to help hook new viewers.

The week has certainly been full of news for syndicated program producers, particularly with the release of a new study from the Syndicated Network Television Association that finds that the stars of syndicated shows have a more developed connection with their viewers than stars on corresponding network television series. The survey found reports of viewers claiming a higher degree of "trust" in the stars of syndicated programming and also found that those with digital video recorders were less likely to skip commercials while watching syndicated programing and also that the shows have higher same-day viewership on DVR than network viewers, with 95 percent of adults watching a show the same day it aired, while it takes up to four days after airing for 95 percent of DVR audiences to watch network shows. The statistics were for viewers 18-49.

Chris Pursell with TelevisionWeek quotes Syndicated Network Television Association President Mitch Burg as saying, "Our commercials deliver twice the recall than networks, and viewers are more likely to be influenced by our stars. Audiences invite these hosts into their homes every day on television because they trust them and believe in their messages, and you can't ignore that power when it comes to advertising." Strange wording in the first part of that quote aside, and trying to put aside my dubiousness of any claims from data reported by the SNTA about itself, the questions are interesting ones. Trusting stars seems to be a weird question to ask in the first place, but I do think that one of the reasons syndicated shows may receive a more dedicated response for their extant viewers as opposed to network shows is that network shows are so heavily promoted and so easy to find that there's a greater number of casual viewers who record network shows that they aren't necessarily fans of and that they aren't in any hurry to watch after recording.

On the other hand, the viewers of these syndicated programs are likely seeking them out in the first place, and that active viewership would lead to more dedicated interest.

Meanwhile, news has surfaced that the distributors of Da Vinci's Inquest are going to launch a new broadband video product for affiliates airing the show through a new deal with Brightcove Internet TV. Program Partners, distributors for the show, will launch broadband video channels and offer exclusive online content to Web sites of affiliate television stations. This ancillary content will include exclusive backstage footage, previews, and clips. And, according to Chris Pursell, the show will eventually work with local stations to "integrate local advertisers into the programming in order to add new revenue streams for the outlet."

The process is all part of finding ways to redefine the syndicator/affiliate relationship, in light of the potential for new revenue streams by expanding the relationship beyond just airing a show in the broadcast lineup.

Pursell reports that Da Vinci's Inquest is available to more than 200 affiliates and in 98 percent of the country.

We first wrote about Brightcove and their deal with Warner Music Group to commercially distribute Warner videos online back in October. Also, see Geoffrey Long's list of various Internet television content distributors, including Brightcove, here.