What is Syndication?

All of the major broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC) operate with affiliate stations in cities through out the country. Syndication is the airing of television programs over these network affiliate stations in various cities—or markets—without going through the national network itself, on a station by station basis. Although network affiliation stations get much of their programming from their respective networks, a significant share of their programming comes from the syndicated market.

 

What is Barter Syndication?

Typically, there are two main ways to air a program on a television station: 1) a time buy or 2) barter syndication. A time buy allows producers of television programming to buy a block of time on a network. This purchase airs programs throughout the US on the same network, same day and same time (depending on the time zone). The producer generates revenue by selling advertising. Ideally this is enough to cover the cost of production, the time buy itself and profit.

With barter syndication, programs are given to network affiliate stations at no cost. These programs air within a specific timeframe, depending on sponsor needs. Each program has a certain amount of commercial time available for advertising (usually 30-second commercial spots) and this inventory is shared between the producer and the local station. The commercial inventory varies from deal to deal. Typically programs are delivered with half of the advertising inventory already filled with spots by the producer. The remaining half is available for the individual stations to sell to local advertisers. The barter aspect is simply the exchange of advertising inventory for the opportunity to air a program.

 

Why are network stations interested in syndicated programs

Network affiliate stations receive the majority of their programming from their national broadcast network (i.e. CBS, ABC, NBC and FOX.) or cable network (e.g. Fox SN, Comcast, etc). Usually, this is not enough to fill all of a local station’s programming requirements. Therefore, a station might have several holes in their schedule. The stations usually fill these holes with local programming, infomercials or syndicated products. Stations often have availability adjacent to the programs provided by the network, offering opportunities for production companies with content in a relevant genre to be aired either before or after national network programming (see Why use Jalbert Productions syndication services?)

 

What are the advantages of barter syndication?

The biggest advantage to barter syndication is cost efficiency. Producers can air their programs at a fraction of the cost of a network time buy, although the trade off is that they must deal with many affiliate stations, rather than the national network (see Why use Jalbert Productions’ syndication services?). Additionally, Barter syndication allows for a window, usually as long as four months, in which a program airs, allowing it to air multiple times, greatly increasing the visibility of a program. Barter syndication offers flexibility. Because of this window, stations have programs on hand to fill last minute programming needs, and historically these time slots are coveted. Finally, this flexibility extends to advertising partners by allowing commercials that can be inserted or removed within the widow as necessary.