Syndicators Try to Keep 'Oprah' Money in UpfrontRivals try to fill gap from exit of irreplaceable star 4/18/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern
With Oprah Winfrey winding up
her dominant daily show, rival syndicators
are looking for ways to grab
a share of the advertising dollars the program
has attracted during the upfront.
Not all of those dollars will stay in syndication.
It’s possible that the overall syndication
market will shrink with Oprah out of the picture,
says Harry Keeshan, director of national
broadcast at media buyer PHD. “I don’t think
you replace an Oprah,” Keeshan says. “Each year
you talk about new talent coming in and doing
talk shows, but that isn’t going to fill that void.
That’s just too big of a juggernaut.” Media
agency Zenith Optimedia recently
forecast that with Oprah’s leaving,
syndication revenue will
drop 2% to $2.6 billion in
2011 and 8% in 2012.
In some ways, Oprah
some of the money spent
to sponsor the show came
not from a syndication budget,
but from a budget specifi cally
dedicated to that program.
“People used the show in
different ways, and ways that
weren’t necessarily defined
by a daypart,” says Jackie
Kulesza, senior VP, broadcast
activation director at
media agency Starcom. “Almost
every client is going to
have a unique approach to
what they do now.”
Kulesza says that
while a number of syndicated
upgraded their time
periods and could see
ratings gains with Oprah out of the picture, “all
the syndicators want to have something that’s
considered to be the next Oprah, but I don’t
think there’s a one-size-fits-all solution there.”
“She’s been such an icon for such a lot time,”
notes Bo Argentino, senior VP of advertising and
media sales at NBC Universal Television Distribution.
“She’s outside of any category, out of
syndication or afternoon talk shows. We’ll miss
her, but this is a great chance for stations and for
advertisers to find new opportunities. It’s a great
opportunity for us to get a hold of that money.”
Syndicators indeed will try to keep Oprah’s ad
dollars within syndication. “You never want
to see volume leave your daypart,
and I think there’s enough powerful
options in syndication that
that doesn’t have to happen,”
says Judy Kenny, executive VP,
ad sales, Twentieth Television.
Howard Levy, executive VP
at Disney-ABC Domestic Television,
says he doesn’t think
syndication will contract.
“Oprah going away can easily
be counterbalanced by
Big Bang Theory coming in.
That’s going to be a lot of
ratings points at a higher
CPM,” says Levy, who
will be selling Regis
Philbin’s signoff from
Live! during the upfront.
“When you consider
that we already own daytime’s
darling in Ellen, and
when you add in Anderson
Cooper, it would be hard to
believe that we won’t capture
some of [the Oprah
ad dollars] in daytime,”
says Michael Teicher, executive
VP-media sales at Warner Bros.
Domestic Television Distribution.
“But in addition, we believe with
the launch of Big Bang Theory, we think there’s
a third alternative that Warner Bros. offers to
capture some of those Oprah dollars.”
At Sony Pictures Television, Amy Carney,
president for advertiser sales, notes that the Dr.
Oz show has been upgraded into Oprah’s old
time slot at 84 stations. “We’re well poised to
receive a lot of that Oprah audience, and as a result
a lot of Oprah advertising dollars,” she says.
CBS Domestic TV Distribution, which is
seeking $1million per spot for Oprah’s farewell
epsiode next month, declined to comment
on the effects of the show’s end.
Meanwhile, the TV advertising market is
hot, and syndicators expect to benefit after a
strong scatter market.
According to Kenny, last year syndicators
finished their upfront deals very early in a
stronger-than-expected market: “All indicators
are the market has a similar feel to the last upfront,”
she says. “It’s been a very strong scatter
market, and historically if [advertisers] pay a
high price in scatter, they’re going to put more
in the upfront. How strong is the question.”
Syndicators figure that their shows can be
an attractive alternative to the broadcast networks
With its studio the leading supplier of programming
to the broadcast networks, Teicher
says Warner Bros. believes in network television.
“Having said that, there are some holes in
primetime, and we are able to solve some marketers’
problems with high-rated shows that are
viewed live so marketers can put out a timely
message reaching a large audience in shows
like Two and a Half Men and Big Bang Theory.”
“It’s a great vehicle for clients,” says
Starcom’s Kulesza of syndication, “but I don’t
know that there’s any new news this year that
would make a client change in a big way the
way they allocate.”