TW, Disney poised for syndie profits

Analyst says News Corp., CBS have weaker outlooks

Which media and entertainment giants are 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 one, two and four 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 and 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 2009, he said.

During an investor presentation Thursday in London, CBS CFO Fred Reynolds said the generally strong second-cycle syndications of "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and "CSI: NY" are likely in 2010, but he wasn't sure about additional product.