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March 1995, Week 1


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"Steven M. Blacher" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 6 Mar 1995 16:48:02 CST
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----------------------------Original message----------------------------
In article <[log in to unmask]>, Jeffrey Cohen
<[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> >From the fourth year on, generally the networks pay LESS. This is because
> the production companies figure they can make money syndicating a
> successful show (one which runs more than 4 seasons, and gets 100 eps).
> This was why "Anything But Love" was cancelled by Paramount, not by ABC.
> ABC wanted to pay the same licensing fee per episode, and only
> produce 13 episdes for the upcoming season, and Lucille
> Salilly [sic] decided that since the syndicated prospects for the show
> were bleak (due to limited demographics), she cancelled it rather than
> see Paramount incur losses. Now, it looks like a good decision, since
> the series is carried in reruns on Lifetime.
> CHEERS was produced in a deficit for most of its run, because it was making
> a mint in syndication.
All television series are produced at a deficit during the course of their
run; the network license fee almost never covers full costs. This starts
from the first season on, long before syndication revenues are a
possibility. Network license fees merely pay enough of the costs to induce
production companies to gamble on a hit by incurring the remaining costs
to produce at a deficit. And costs rarely go down after 4 seasons for
either the network or the production company as actors contracts, etc. all
have escalator seasons each new season.
ANYTHING BUT LOVE was cancelled entering its fourth season technically,
but because of marginal ratings had never had a full season order; ABC
kept bringing it back at a cheap license fee to plug gaps in its schedule.
Paramount finally bailed out due to limited syndication prospects in this
special situation. But the reduced license fee in this case is the
exception rather than the rule.
CHERRS is another kind of exception; to avoid losing the show, NBC in the
last seasons paid an extraordinary and high license fee that covered full
costs to induce Paramount to keep the show in production even after
lucrative syndication deals had been set.
Another example of escalating, not decreasing costs, this year is FULL
HOUSE. Despite the fact that it still gets good ratings, ABC has cancelled
the show rather than pay the increased license fee it would face next
season as the ratings aren't high enough to justify the increase.
Steven M. Blacher / Wellfleet Productions
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