This could be a big deal: Domestic TV stations and cable networks already pay about $20B a year for syndicated shows, RBC Capital Markets’ David Bank says in an in-depth look this morning at the business. And digital streamers pay studios $2B for content, about half for TV shows. The amount from digital could grow as much as 30% next year if a new player challenges Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon in the online market. That’s provided much comfort for the companies that dominate syndicated sales of scripted sitcoms and dramas: studios affiliated with ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC, as well as Warner Bros and Sony. But Bank says that Viacom is about to join the club for the first time since it split from CBS in 2005. TV Land’s original shows including Hot In Cleveland and Happily Divorced “could generate new and profitable revenue streams for Viacom as the shows accumulate enough episodes to move into broadcast syndication,” Bank says. He believes that CBS-owned stations will begin to air Hot In Cleveland re-runs in fall 2013, generating as much as $500,000 per episode for Viacom. Although that’s modest compared to broadcast network hits such as The Big Bang Theory, the show featuring Betty White “could move the needle for Viacom with nearly $30–40 million of highly profitable revenue hitting on launch.” Lionsgate also could reap the benefits of its investments in TV production. Weeds is the studio’s “only real off-network syndication success story so far,” Bank says. But he notes that Lionsgate is already sounding out potential buyers to syndicate Charlie Sheen’s Anger Management in fall 2014. The studio also could strike gold by selling re-runs of Nurse Jackie (which runs on Showtime) and Boss (on Starz).
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