That '70s Success
By Paige Albiniak -- Broadcasting & Cable, 11/30/2003 7:00:00 PM
When Carsey-Werner-Mandabach began selling That '70s Show in syndication back in 2000, the company gave each station the option of taking a second run of the show on a barter-only basis.
"It was a bit of a gamble, but the bottom line is, we exceeded stations' expectations with the show's double-run performance in the first season," says Jim Krauss, CWM executive vice president of distribution.
Those double runs, which cleared on 125 stations in 75% of the country, helped That '70s Show to a successful freshman year. In the October ratings book, it was the fourth-highest-rated sitcom in off-net syndication, counting double runs.
In the households category, that put the show behind such syndie heavyweights as Warner Bros.' Friends, Sony's Seinfeld and King World's Everybody Loves Raymond, according to Nielsen. That '70s Show does even better in the younger demographics, coming in third among adults 18-34. The show also has seen more growth among adults 18-49 than any other off-net sitcom in syndication, including double-runs in the ratings averages.
"We were pretty bullish in selling the show because we felt it would be enormously successful in the under-50 audience," Krauss says. "A unique selling point for this show is the fact that we have so many men 18-49. The show's adult 18-49 audience is split almost in half between men and women."
With that performance, CWM is having no problem renewing That '70s Show for a second cycle, including double runs, for which stations now will pay a percentage of the show's license fee. After five weeks on the road, CWM has reupped the show with double runs on stations in 30 markets covering 25% of the country and hopes to be close to 75% by the time NATPE rolls around in January.
Besides the cash license fee, CWM also splits the advertising time with stations, giving them 51/2 minutes and keeping 11/2.
Off-net, That '70s Show is cleared on Fox, Viacom, Acme, Tribune, Cascade, Emmis and Meredith station groups. The series is in its sixth season on Fox and has been renewed for a seventh.
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