Petry: Syndie Millionaire , Link risky

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For years, syndicators have exploited the name recognition of popular network
comedies and dramas by selling rerun packages as quickly as possible to local
stations.

This year's twist on that tried-and-true formula is transplanting two popular
network game shows -- Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and The Weakest
Link
-- into first-run syndication.

But an analysis by Petry Media Corp. suggested that the risks are a little
higher with the two game shows -- especially with Millionaire, as its
ratings on the network have dropped substantially the past two years.

Petry noted that among adults 25 through 54, Millionaire has dropped
77 percent over six major sweep periods.

Link does much better in the 25-through-54 demo than Millionaire,
although Petry pointed out that over the two major sweep periods that
Link has been on the air, it has dropped 7 percent in the demo.

'The lack of growth from the program's solid premiere has been cause for some
eyebrow raising as the program starts its syndication run this month,' the rep
firm said.

Petry added that the ratings data 'paint a pretty bleak picture of the future
for games, even those with a network pedigree.'

Nevertheless, both Link and Millionaire have solid clearance
lists across primarily 'Big Three' affiliates.

'The influence of simultaneous network broadcasts has long been known to be
of immeasurable value in the success of off-network programs,' Petry noted. 'It
remains to be seen if this value will be translated to first-run game
shows.'

Petry concluded that Link is more likely to gain such benefits than
Millionaire if the ratings declines of the latter are any
indication.

Pyramid, the third new game show for 2002, doesn't have a cross-platform
promotional opportunity, but it does have a certain name and host (Donny Osmond)
recognition.

Still, the expectation levels for both Millionaire and Link are
extremely high, given their strong ratings out of the network gate. But Petry
warned, 'If we expect immediate high returns, we will likely be
disappointed.'

Separately, Petry analyzed shows that have been repurposed on broadcast and
cable and what the implications for those shows are in syndication.

Some concern may be warranted, the rep concluded, although so far, the cable
ratings for most of the repurposed offerings have been pretty anemic.

Once & Again on Lifetime Television, Petry noted, averaged a lower
rating than Golden Girls, a sitcom dating back to the 1980s, did in the
same time period.

And in November, Friends' run on TBS Superstation was flat or down
compared with Fresh Prince of Bel-Air a year earlier.

On the other hand, Charmed boosted its TBS time period significantly
in November, while at the same time, the show's run on The WB Television Network
(where it originated) was down 14 percent.

'A strong cable repurpose could wind up helping a newer broadcast station
with addition exposure of shared programs,' Petry said.

And as Crossing Over with John Edward demonstrates, cable can also
serve as the originating medium for repurposed shows. It started as a USA
Network show and then branched to broadcast syndication. That's a trend that
likely to continue, Petry said.

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