Little Left for Syndie Scatter

Syndicated TV's fourth-quarter scatter market is likely to end flat at best, which isn't terrible given the softness of the scatter market overall. "You can get some sweet deals," says Andrew Ladas, supervisor, national broadcast, Carat.

Overall, says Hadassa Gerber, director of research, Syndicated Network TV Association, syndication revenue for Jan.-Sept. is up 16.4% for 2003, according to CMR data, but fourth-quarter revenue will be flat to negative.

First quarter '04 looks equally quiet. "I see it as flat overall, with only mid-tier or upper-tier shows getting increases," Ladas says. "There's no scatter money, and I know we took options. That's probably a sign clients are cutting budgets."

Says Aaron Cohen, EVP/director of national broadcast, Horizon Media, "There'll be some money, but it will trickle in." Horizon isn't buying any scatter either.

Nor is another major buyer, speaking off the record: "We've done little scatter in January and none in syndication. Clients just didn't plan for it, largely because we bought a hell of a lot more syndication in the upfront."

Still, Twentieth Television met its fourth-quarter budgets, says EVP, barter advertising and cable, Bob Cesa. "First quarter is slower then it's been in the past," he adds, "but it actually started to pick up this week."

Same goes for another major syndicator: "Last week, I thought we'd end up really slow. But, over the last few days, there's been a dramatic increase in budgets submitted—in many cases, for first quarter and, in some cases, for multiple quarters. There's increased optimism."