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Unlocking the Power of Syndicated TV Shows

October 17th, 2018   ||    by Oriana Schwindt

Syndicated TV has never been the most glamorous segment of the industry. But in a crowded, decreasingly linear world, it’s one that provides some of the best value to certain advertisers.

With TV ad dollars in a secular decline overall, the syndicated market is also somewhat stable. For its 2018 outlook on the segment, Zenith predicted just a $41 million dollar decline, from $2.775 billion to $2.734 billion, according to Broadcasting and Cable.

Not all syndicated TV series are created equal, though. So now that you’ve realized the power of syndication, what’s your best bet?

Legal/True Crime

All rise for Judge Judy. There’s a reason Judy Sheindlin is one of the highest-paid people on the small screen—she singlehandedly resurrected the court show, and has been the gold standard for courtroom shows since 1996. Judge Judy is still winning Emmys and blowing not just its legal competitors but those of other genres out of the water, even in repeats: In the 2017-18 syndication season, the show averaged a 6.9 household rating, according to Broadcasting and Cable.

Game Shows

Family Feud has cycled through six hosts since the syndicated series premiered in 1976, and continues to succeed. The strip usually puts up a 6.0 household rating or above, topping its category and most shows in other categories as well.

Daytime Talk

Dr. Phil is the crème de la crème here. The show recently hit 101 weeks in a row on top of the syndicated talk charts, reports Broadcasting and Cable. Entering its 17th year, Dr. Phil—the show and the man himself—shows no signs of slowing down, pulling in around a 3.2 average household rating.


Don’t forget about the power of repeats. Warner Bros.’ The Big Bang Theory is the king in this genre, with regular household ratings above a 4.0, noted Broadcasting and Cable. That’s head and shoulders above the rest of the pack, especially because original episodes are still airing and dominating those ratings charts, offering a sort of halo effect.

Watch for a potential halo for Last Man Standing, too, which can be found in second place to Bang with household ratings in the 2.0 range and will soon begin airing new episodes on Fox after ABC canceled it in 2017.


This genre has proven the most susceptible to the cannibalization of the internet. While some newcomers have managed to find limited success, like Twentieth Television’s Page Six, once again, it’s the old-timers with brand recognition that dominate, particularly in the run-up to prime time. In this case, those old-timers are Inside Edition and Entertainment Tonight, from CBS Television Distribution.

Place Your Bets

Syndicated TV may not be glamorous, but it can be a powerful tool for media buyers—if you know what to buy. Armed with this knowledge, you can go forth and take advantage of this.

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