Is there still a minimum number of shows a series needs before it can be syndicated?

There used to be a magic number (was it 100?) of episodes before they could sell reruns of it.
Presumably because nobody thought shows with fewer episodes would attract an audience.
But now that you can see Gomer Pyle on four channels, they must be dying for anything that hasn’t been aired since it first came out.
So should we expect to see repeats of Andy Richter Controls the Universe and other good 1 season shows?

For syndication to be considered profitable on broadcast, you generally need 100 or so shows. On cable, which is cheaper to operate and which commands a smaller audience, syndication can be profitable with fewer episodes. Witness Cartoon Network, still making a fortune out of syndicating Futurama and Family Guy, each of which had around 50 episodes. As for Gomer Pyle, the rights are probably so cheap by now that it doesn’t make much of a difference.

It really depends on several things.

One of these is, is it proper syndication (that is, the selling of a program to individual stations), or are you selling it to cable networks?

In the case of cable, I’ve noticed a tendency to air repeats of programs that didn’t make 100 episodes. Trio, for example, does it all the time.

However, in syndication, there is a tendency for stations to be buying for 5-days-a-week airing. For this reason, syndication still, for the most part (there have been some exceptions, most notably “The Honeymooners”) requires at least 100 episodes.

An extreme example of cable broadcast with little product might be “Hondo.” The program ran on ABC from September to December of 1967 and amounted to 17 episodes. It still appeared on TNT cable for awhile on Sunday mornings.

Star Trek, of course, had fewer than 100 episodes of the original series, but that had a built-in fan base.

Andy Richter had, what, 14 episodes? If someone tried to syndicate it, get ready to hear “Oh no, it’s the one where Molly and Jessica are making out again.”

Trye but aren’t some shows sold as a bundle, “Buy these three shows, One Premium, one so-so, one awful” for one special price."?

So, the series would have aired before the comment would come in.
As for wanting to see repeats, I can’t stand to see repeats of Simpsons or Seinfeld- I’ve already seen them and the jokes fall flat from lack of surprise.
And today’s shows aren’t like I Love Lucy, where 50% of the audience was tuned in. You can have a hit with 10% share, and thus 90% of viewers will not know about Molly and Jessica.

It still seems to be in effect. That 70’s Show went into syndication this fall, right after it hit its 100th episode.

A number of PBS stations have run episodes of “Fawlty Towers,” which I believe only had a dozen or so episodes. I’ve seen them string them out for 24 (it seemed) weeks & then again in pledge drive marathons. That’s the most extreme example I know of, but they seem to do this with a number of “Britcoms” which didn’t have 100 episodes.

There are any number of syndicated shows with less than 100 episodes running on UHF stations: The Munsters (70), Gilligan’s Island (98), Addams Family (64), Honeymooners (39 I believe were preserved and available for years; I understand others were found), Partridge Family (96), I’m sure many others. Granted a couple of those are quite close to 100.

Believe it or not, Gomer went 150 episodes. “Golly!”

[hijack]When Friends was coming to an end, an article in the paper mentioned that it wasn’t profitable to keep the show going much past 200 episodes as that was the maximum number of episodes that could be sold in syndication. Apparently the local stations weren’t typically interested in buying more that. I’m not sure why, though.[/hijack]

The actual series only had 39 episodes: The “Lost Episodes” are actually sketches from “Cavalcade of Stars” and the 1950’s “Jackie Gleason Show” put together to fill a half-hour.

Dewey Finn- It could be an unwillingness to go more than 40 weeks without repeating. 200 goes into 5 40 times.

Back in October The Bob and Tom Show was again featuring George Lopez. They got to talking about syndication and George said it something like either 84 or 88.

Maybe it depends on the contract or the network producing it?

Seems from the above stats that there is no magic number.
Problably just depends on how industrious your agent is, like everything else in show biz.

UPN was airing early That 70s Show reruns back to back at 5:30 and 6:00 pm Central last summer (2003). Did they really JUST hit 100 episodes?? I thought they were well beyond that.

Yup…just checked it. On Dec 15, That 70s Show will be airing it’s 164th episode.

Here’s the episode guide.

100 episodes was long considered a “magic number” because a TV station could air the show four times a week and only repeat each episode once per year…minus a couple weeks for spring break and Christmas, I guess. :wink: Certainly there were exceptions, such as Star Trek and The Munsters, but these were very popular shows that just didn’t catch on until after their original broadcast run. On the other hand, it’s probably more difficult to find shows with 100+ episodes that did NOT make it to syndication!

Obviously, cable television has changed the rules enormously. Comedy Central still airs repeats of The Critic (23 episodes) and Duckman (70 episodes), though only once or twice a week. Twenty years ago, these shows would never have reached syndication.

Plus there’s DVD, which opens a market for one-season wonders like Freaks and Geeks, Wonderfalls, and Kindred: The Embraced. (Though I’m not holding my breath for Clubhouse on DVD…lol.)