Syndication also applies to international markets. Same language countries often syndicate programs to each other – such as programs from the United Kingdom being syndicated to Australia and vice versa. Another example would be programs from the United Kingdom, Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina being syndicated to local television stations in the United States, and programs from the United States being syndicated elsewhere in the world. One of the best-known internationally syndicated television series has been The Muppet Show, which was produced by Grade's English ITV franchise company ATV at Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire, and was shown around the world, including the United States, where it aired in syndication (including the owned-and-operated stations of CBS), and Canada, where CBC Television aired the show. The 1970s was a time when many British comedies, including The Benny Hill Show and Monty Python's Flying Circus were syndicated to the United States and worldwide. Many soaps and long-running series are also successfully syndicated around the globe.
Radio syndication generally works the same way as television syndication, except that radio stations usually are not organized into strict affiliate-only networks. Radio networks generally are only distributors of radio shows, and individual stations (though often owned by large conglomerates) decide which shows to carry from a wide variety of networks and independent radio providers. As a result, radio networks such as WestwoodOne or Premiere Networks, despite their influence in broadcasting, are not as recognized among the general public as television networks like CBS or ABC (many of these distributors ally themselves with television networks; WestwoodOne, for instance, is allied with NBC, while Premiere is allied with Fox). Some examples of widely syndicated commercial broadcasting music programs include weekly countdowns like Rick Dees' Weekly Top 40, the American Top 40, American Country Countdown with Kix Brooks, Canada's Top 20 Countdown, the Canadian Hit 30 Countdown and the nightly program, Delilah, heard on many U.S. stations.
IFA-Amsterdam (International Feature Agency) provides news and lifestyle content to publications. Cagle Cartoons offers newspaper editorial cartoons and columns. 3DSyndication comprises syndication service from India, the India Today Group's Syndications Today, and Times Syndication Service of India.
There are three key reasons why a radio station will decide to pick up a syndicated show – the program is unique and has difficult to replicate content, has a decent ratings track record or offers a celebrity host. New developing radio programs are generally able to claim one of these attributes, but not all three. Regional syndication attempts to replace these benchmark attributes with other benefits that are generally recognized by the industry as also being important. Given the financial downturn within the industry, the need for quality cost effective locally relevant programming is greater than ever before. Programs that offer regionally specific content while providing the economic benefits of syndication can be especially appealing to potential affiliates. Regional syndication can also be more attractive to area advertisers who share a common regional trading area versus assembling a radio network of stations that hopscotch across the United States.
The television show CSI earned $1.6 million per episode in its first cycle in cable syndication. There were many different versions of the show making it an international success. It was already popular in the U.S., so becoming a success internationally as well as within the U.S. made syndication sensible. Whether a series is produced in the U.S. or not is based on the economic value and potential viability of its sales internationally with the possibility of syndication.
Syndication is particularly popular in talk radio. While syndicated music shows (with the exception of some evening and overnight shows such as Delilah mentioned above) tend to air once a week and are mostly recorded, most popular talk radio programs are syndicated daily and are broadcast live. Also, with relatively few 24-hour live talk radio networks (though this, in recent times, has been changing), most radio stations are free to assemble their own lineup of talk show hosts as they so choose. Examples of syndicated talk programs are Premiere Networks' The Bob & Tom Show, Dial Global's The Jim Bohannon Show, and the self-syndicated The Dave Ramsey Show (more recently, talk networks such as Talk Radio Network have been marketing and packaging all-day lineups, marking a departure from the syndication model; as such, popular shows such as Cumulus Media Networks' The Savage Nation and Premiere's The Rush Limbaugh Show now air as part of a broader network lineup in many markets, particularly on Premiere owned-and-operated stations, though they continue to be syndicated to non-network stations as well). Talk syndication tends to be more prevalent because voice tracking, a practice used by many music stations to have disc jockeys host multiple supposedly local shows at once, is not feasible with live talk radio.
Economic factors that influence production outside the U.S. play a major role in deciding if a television show will be syndicated, internally and internationally. International syndication has sustained a growing of prosperity and monetary value amongst the distributors who sell to them. Due to a rise in competition, syndicators have upheld high standards for different countries to buy the rights to distribute shows. During the 1990s poor ratings were common amongst syndicated shows, but distributors still made it possible for international competition to happen and buy U.S. shows. Colombian, Brazilian, Mexican and Venezuelan telenovelas are programmed throughout the Portuguese and Spanish-speaking world, and in many parts of India, China and Europe, while Turkish television drama is broadcast in the Balkans, some other European countries, Western and Central Asia and North Africa.
Syndication has been known to spur the popularity of a series that only experienced moderate success during its network run. The best known example of this is the original Star Trek series, which ran for three seasons on NBC from 1966 to 1969, gaining only modest ratings, but became a worldwide phenomenon after it entered off-network syndication. Its success in syndication led to the Star Trek film series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the later versions in the franchise.
Since the early 2000s, some programs being proposed for national distribution in first-run syndication have been test marketed on a selected number of or all stations owned by certain major station group, allowing the distributor to determine whether a national roll-out is feasible based on the ratings accrued in the selected markets where the program is being aired.
Syndication rights typically last for six consecutive showings of a series within three to five years; if a program continues to perform well enough in broadcast or cable syndication during the initial cycle, television stations or cable networks can opt to renew an off-network program for an additional cycle.
While market penetration can vary widely and revenues can be unreliable, the producers often enjoy more content freedom in the absence of network's standards and practices departments; frequently, some innovative ideas are explored by first-run syndicated programming which the networks are leery of giving airtime to. Meanwhile, top-rated syndicated shows in the United States usually have a domestic market reach as high as 98%. Very often, series' that are aired in syndication have reduced running times. For example, a standard American sitcom runs 22 minutes, but in syndication it may be reduced to 20 minutes to make room for more commercials.
This type of syndication has arisen in the U.S. as a parallel service to member stations of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and the handful of independent public broadcasting stations. This form of syndication more closely resembles the news agency model, where nominally competing networks share resources and rebroadcast each other's programs. For example, National Public Radio (NPR) stations commonly air the Public Radio Exchange's This American Life, which may contain stories produced by NPR journalists.
In the United States (as a result of continued relaxation of station ownership regulations since the 1970s), syndicated programs are usually licensed to stations on a group level, with multiple stations owned and/or operated by the same broadcasting group carrying the program in different markets (except in areas where another station holds the market rights to the program) – making it increasingly more efficient for syndicators to gain widespread national clearances for their programs. Many syndicated programs are traditionally sold first to one of five "key" station groups (ABC Owned Television Stations, NBC Owned Television Stations, CBS Television Stations, Fox Television Stations and Tribune Broadcasting), allowing their programs to gain clearances in the largest U.S. TV markets (such as New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia, where all five aforementioned groups each own stations), before striking deals with other major and smaller station owners. Shows airing in first-run syndication that are carried primarily by an owned-and-operated station of a network may sometimes be incorrectly referenced as a network program, especially if said network's syndication wing distributes the program, regardless to its distribution to stations of varying network affiliations and despite the fact it is not part of an individual network's base schedule.
Syndication can take the form of either weekly or daily syndication. Game shows, some "tabloid" and entertainment news shows, and talk shows are broadcast daily on weekdays, while most other first-run syndicated shows are broadcast on a weekly basis and are usually aired on weekends only. Big discussion occurred in the 1990s and 2000s about whether previously aired episodes of a show could become syndicated while new episodes of it continued to air on its original network. There had been much opposition to this idea and it was generally viewed to lead to the death of the show. However, licensing a program for syndication actually resulted in the increased popularity for shows that remained in production. A prime example is Law & Order.
Syndication of older episodes can also increase exposure for a television show that is still airing first-run network episodes. In the case of the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory, its syndication, particularly on TBS, is one of the reasons attributed for a rise in first-run ratings for its sixth season. The sixth-season episode "The Bakersfield Expedition", for example, was the first episode of that series to attract 20 million viewers.
Off-network syndication in its various forms, including Internet, international and traditional direct-to-station sales, constitute roughly half of an individual television program's overall revenue stream, with the other half taken up by advertising.
In first-run syndication, a program is broadcast for the first time as a syndicated show and is made specifically to sell directly into syndication (not any one particular network), or at least first so offered in a given country (programs originally created and broadcast outside the US, first presented on a network in their country of origin, have often been syndicated in the US and in some other countries);
Off-network syndication can take several forms. The most common form is known as strip syndication or daily syndication, when episodes of a television series are shown daily five times a week in the same time slot. In the 1960s and 1970s, independent stations with no news departments began viewing strip syndication as a necessary means of obtaining effective counterprogramming to the local news programs airing on network affiliates. Typically, this means that enough episodes must exist (88 episodes, or four seasons, is the usual minimum, though many syndicators prefer a fully rounded 100 episodes) to allow for continual strip syndication to take place over the course of several months, without episodes being repeated. However, there are exceptions, such as the 65-episode block (common in children's programming), which allows for a 13-week cycle of daily showings, so there will only be four repeats in a year.
Syndication of editorial cartoons has an important impact on the form, since cartoons about local issues or politicians are not of interest to the national market. Therefore, an artist who contracts with a syndicate will either be one who already focuses their work on national and global issues, or will shift focus accordingly.
In some cases, more than one episode is shown daily. Half-hour sitcoms are sometimes syndicated in groups of two or four episodes, taking up one or two hours of broadcast time. If a series is not strip syndicated, it may be aired once a week, instead of five times a week. This allows shows with fewer episodes to last long in syndication, but it also may mean viewers will tire of waiting a week for the next episode of a show they have already seen and stop watching. More often, hour-long dramas in their first several runs in syndication are offered weekly; sitcoms are more likely to get stripped. In recent years, there has been something of a trend toward showing two consecutive episodes of a program on Saturday and Sunday nights after prime time (generally following the local news). This pattern has been particularly prominent for shows which are still in production but have run long enough to have many previous episodes available.