If you love TV, you've probably heard the term before: syndication. But what is television syndication, exactly? Simply put, syndicated shows are either "first-run," meaning they are "free agents" that are not owned by any particular network (like Star Trek: The Next Generation), or they're "second-run," meaning they used to belong to a network (like NBC and Seinfeld) but they now air elsewhere (these are reruns, essentially).Despite the increasing popularity of on-demand streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, syndicated, over-the-air TV is still extraordinarily popular among viewers (Wheel of Fortune and Judge Judy dominate the ratings) and TV syndication statistics show they're highly profitable to the studios and talent involved (let's just say the titular 2 Broke Girls aren't broke anymore!). The shows that make the most in syndication, in fact, are also very popular online (see The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family), proving that it's the content that matters most, not the delivery system. Here are some must-read TV syndication facts and stats to get you ready for your next round of channel surfing!
It's called the "10/90 Model": take a couple of tried-and-true TV stars (such as Kelsey Grammar and Martin Lawrence) and give them a sitcom with a premise designed for longevity (such as the storytelling-friendly courtroom setting of FX's 2014 flop Partners). Once the pieces are in place, make a deal with the network that if the first 10 episodes do well in the ratings, 90 more episodes will be ordered, allowing the show to have enough episodes to sell into syndication.What's wrong with this model? Critics say it values episode quantity over quality and leads to forced, formulaic storytelling (the quickly-cancelled Partners, for example, picked the stars before the premise).