Syndication was once a business of clearly defined rules. Today, the perspective is more along the lines of “anything goes.” That’s largely due to the efforts of innovators like CBS Television Distribution’s Scott Koondel, who spends his days crafting the best deal for the product at hand, as opposed to simply doing things the way they’ve always been done.
“He thinks so far outside the box,” says John Nogawski, CTD’s president. “He always comes up with 10 ways to look at something. I think he wakes up in the morning thinking of new ways to do things and goes to bed the same way. As a result, we are always ahead of the curve.”
Koondel was instrumental in the quick sale of CBS’ NCIS: Los Angeles to NBC Universal’s USA Network. NCIS shot to huge ratings on CBS after USA began playing it in prime in 2008, with 20 million people tuning in per episode. That success allowed Koondel to sell NCIS: LA to USA for nearly $2 million an episode just seven episodes into its first season.
“What’s really great about CBS is that it really endorses the entrepreneurial spirit,” Koondel says.
Koondel crafted another innovative deal in May 2008 when he sold CBS’ Ghost Whisperer to three networks—Ion, SyFy and WE—correctly noting that the three have disparate audiences.
Most recently, Koondel chartered the sale of CBS Films’ fi rst three entries—The Back-Up Plan, Extraordinary Measures and Faster, due out this November—to USA. The sale marks CTD’s return to film distribution. Koondel reportedly secured 20% of each film’s box-office gross, a good price in a marketplace where 12% is often the norm.
“At CBS, we’re not afraid to change the rules,” Koondel says. “As the market changes and evolves, we change and evolve with it. We want to figure out how we can best monetize our content, and help our clients do the same thing. That’s the true definition of partnership.”