Syndication profits promising for TW, Disney

Report claims pipeline otherwise looking dry

NEW YORK -- Which media and entertainment giant is best positioned to grow TV syndication profits?

According to Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Michael Nathanson, the answer is Time Warner and Walt Disney, while News Corp. and CBS Corp. have weak pipelines.

"TW has a healthy slate of unsold programming with 1, 2, and 4 completed seasons," he said Thursday in a rare report dedicated to syndication. "Disney has the next-best syndication pipeline, with "Private Practice," "Ugly Betty" and "Brothers & Sisters." Both companies appear well positioned to grow syndication profits."

But the title of Nathanson's report expressed some concern: "The TV syndication pipeline looks awfully dry."

Discussing News Corp., Nathanson said the conglomerate has "a noticeable hole in its near-term syndication pipeline with no shows with two or three completed seasons, which could present a challenge."

And CBS does not have any shows with three completed seasons and faces tough comparisons after fiscal year 2009, he said.

During an investor presentation in London Thursday, CBS CFO Fred Reynolds said the generally strong second cycle syndication of "CSI: Las Vegas" and "CSI: New York" are likely in 2010, but he wasn't sure about additional product.
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