Syndication shows are television shows which are broadcast by individual local stations, each of which must negotiate the syndication rights on its own. This is in contrast with network shows, which are produced by a television network and distributed to the network's local affiliates for exclusive broadcast. There are a number of different types of syndication shows, with sitcoms, educational programming, and tabloid-style shows being very popular, and there are a couple of syndication formats.
When content is syndicated, the company which owns the rights to the content negotiates with people who wish to air it. For example, a producer for a television show might agree to assign the rights to a local affiliate in exchange for cash payments, airtime for advertisements, or air time for other shows. Syndication is designed to distribute shows across a wide area, with producers targeting local stations with the goal of covering lots of ground, ensuring that the show is seen by as many viewers as possible.
Syndication shows can generate a lot of profit for a producer, by keeping the content on air and bringing in money. They are also useful for local stations, because many network companies do not provide enough content to fill a full day of programming. Syndication shows can be used to fill the gaps, providing something for potential viewers to tune in to.
In first-run syndication, a show is developed specifically for syndication, and broadcast as a syndication show from the beginning. First-run syndication is also common with foreign television shows. In one nation, for example, stations vie for the rebroadcasting rights of shows from another country, broadcasting them in syndication on multiple networks. Syndication allows the content to reach a larger audience, and generates a tidy profit for the foreign production company.
Off-network syndication shows are re-runs of shows which originally were aired on network television. Some classic television shows have been running continuously for decades, thanks to off-network syndication, and stations may also pick up more recent shows for off-network syndication, hoping to attract viewers by offering popular shows.
In public broadcasting syndication, producers develop content specifically designed for public broadcasting companies. The content is often educational in nature, with programming which adheres to the mission of public broadcasting stations. These shows are rarely syndicated outside the public broadcasting system, because they are viewed as special interest programming.