NBCUniversal Syndication Studios
FormerlyNBC Universal Television Distribution (September 13, 2004 – January 29, 2011)
NBCUniversal Television Distribution (January 29, 2011 — October 5, 2020)
TypeDivision
IndustryTelevision syndication
Predecessors
Founded
  • 1948; 74 years ago (1948) (as MCA Television Ltd.)
  • December 9, 1996; 25 years ago (1996-12-09) (as Universal Television Enterprises)
  • September 13, 2004; 17 years ago (2004-09-13) (as NBCUniversal Television Distribution)
HeadquartersPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania
Manhattan, New York City, New York
Universal City, California
Key people
Frances Manfredi (President, US & Canada, 2015)[1]
ParentNBCUniversal Television and Streaming

NBCUniversal Syndication Studios, formerly known as NBCUniversal Television Distribution, is the television syndication division of NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast, in the United States.[2] Its predecessors include NBC Enterprises, Universal Domestic Television, Universal Television Distribution, MCA TV, Multimedia Entertainment (including Avco Program Sales), PolyGram Television, Studios USA Television Distribution and Sky Vision. At some point in its history, it was also known as "NBCUniversal Television & New Media Distribution"[1] and "NBC Universal Television and New Media Distribution.”[3] This unit is possibly the parent for the similarly named "NBCUniversal Domestic Television Distribution" unit.[4][5]

The company distributes television series produced by NBC (after 1973), Universal Television, Multimedia Entertainment, Studios USA, Revue Studios, PolyGram Television (except the ITC Entertainment library), Universal Media Studios and G4 Media, LLC. The division distributes the film libraries of Universal Pictures, the 1929–49 Paramount Pictures library (owned by EMKA, Ltd.), all 1996–99 PolyGram Filmed Entertainment films (as well as PolyGram Visual Programming), USA Films, Focus Features, Universal Animation Studios, and DreamWorks Animation.

The name was changed to reflect the NBCUniversal brand between September 13, 2004, and January 31, 2011. NUTD is considered the third broadcast syndication arm of NBC, with NBC Enterprises being the second and NBC Films (now part of CBS Media Ventures) as the first, dating back to spring 1953. NUTD is also considered the sixth broadcast syndication arm of Universal Television with MCA TV as the first, Universal Television Enterprises as the second, Studios USA Television Distribution as the third, Universal Domestic Television as the fourth, and Universal Television Distribution as the fifth.

Background

Logo used as NBCUniversal Television Distribution.
Logo used as NBCUniversal Television Distribution.

NBC Enterprises

In 1955, NBC bought out Kagran Corporation,[6] which was then renamed to California National Productions (CNP) for merchandising, syndication and opera stage production.[7] In 1956, NBC Television Films was then migrated to Kagran, which was then renamed to CNP.[8] The subsidiary started producing The Silent Service that year.[9] By 1957, NBC planned to remove the opera department from CNP and Earl Rettig was named president.[9] CNP was also in discussion with MGM Television about handling distribution for the latter's series.[9]

Following the Financial Interest and Syndication Rules in 1971, NBC had to divest the NBC Films unit to National Telefilm Associates, while programs from NBC News continued to be distributed internationally by NBC Enterprises for $7.5 million.[10] In 1991, NBC licensed the syndication rights of Saved by the Bell to Rysher Entertainment.[11]

In 1993, while the Fin-Syn rules were relaxed, NBC had returned to distributing off-net syndicated reruns of their programming.[12] In 2000, NBC Enterprises had officially launched its own syndicated division NBC Enterprises & Syndication, with former Eyemark Entertainment executive Ed WIlson as the head of the division.[13]

In 2001, NBC Enterprises made a deal with Hearst-Argyle Television Productions to deal with their programming alliance to produce first-run syndicated series.[14] In 2002, NBC inked a deal with MGM Television to launch a media sales operation, called MGM-NBC Media Sales.[15]

MCA Television/Studios USA Domestic Television

MCA TV (also known as MCA Television Limited) was founded in 1948, several years before parent MCA Inc.'s purchase of Decca Records (in 1959) and Universal Pictures (in 1962). For more than four decades, it was one of the most active syndicators of television programming. In 1954, it formed an alliance with producer Don Fedderson, through his Don Fedderson Productions company, and the first show to be formed under the alliance was The Millionaire, which spawned a five-year run on the air.[16]

In 1957, it bought out the rights to the pre-1950 Paramount sound library and created a shell holding company, EMKA, Ltd.

During the 1980s, it distributed both off-network reruns of shows like Kate & Allie and Gimme a Break!, as well as original syndication product like the animated action series Bionic Six (co-produced with TMS Entertainment), The Morton Downey Jr. Show (taped at then-MCA owned WWOR-TV in Secaucus, New Jersey), The Munsters Today (a revival of the Universal sitcom), and Pictionary, based on the popular board game.

MCA Television attempted several branded TV packages from 1985 to 2001, including an ad-hoc film network, a broadcast network and a few syndicated programming blocks. The company launched the Universal Pictures Debut Network, an ad-hoc film network with plans to launch in two stages beginning in September 1985.[17] In September 1989, MCA TV and Paramount Domestic Television had formed Premier Advertiser Sales, a joint venture created for the sale of advertising for their existing syndicated programs. As a possible outgrowth of this sales joint venture, MCA and Paramount began plans for a new network, the Premier Program Service.[18] However, plans for the service halted thanks to objections from Fox, annoyed that MCA and Paramount were soliciting some of their affiliates for PPS. In the meantime, MCA teamed up with BHC Communications for a syndicated block; the Hollywood Premiere Network, that only lasted for the 1990–1991 season.[19] The Universal Family Network syndicated programming block was launched by the company in the fall of 1993 with a single weekly half hour show, Exosquad, as a counter to The Disney Afternoon.[20] The Action Pack was also launched by MCA to syndicate action-adventure programming.[21]

In 1989, MCA TV was signed on as syndicator of Inside Story, which was produced by Sunbeam Television-owned Fox affiliate WSVN, and went nationwide as their new title Inside Report, but it only lasted one season on the air.[22]

In 1993, MCA Television had launched a joint effort with Brandon Tartikoff and his new Moving Target Productions company for a development of a late night talk show.[23]

In 1996, MCA TV was renamed Universal Television Enterprises; at this time they also assumed production and distribution of several daytime talk shows previously produced by Multimedia Entertainment (which Universal had acquired), including The Jerry Springer Show. In 1997, it was sold again, along with the network unit, to USA Networks, which was renamed as Studios USA Domestic Television in 1998.[24]

EMKA, Ltd. is the holding company responsible for a majority of the pre-1950 Paramount Pictures sound library. As an official part of the Universal Pictures library, they are part of the company's television unit, Universal Television.

PolyGram Television/Universal Worldwide Television

In 1997, PolyGram created a television division to distribute first-run syndicated and network series, hiring Bob Sanitsky from ICM Partners to be president of the division. The new unit absorbed the domestic syndication unit of ITC Entertainment (acquired by PolyGram in 1995), including its domestic sales president Matt Cooperstein.[25] This company called PolyGram Television, is unrelated to an earlier domestic syndication television distribution arm of the same name that PolyGram also owned that was formed in 1981 and it was closed in 1983, and sold its assets to King Features Entertainment.[26]

The division's first project was the syndication of new episodes of Alliance Atlantis' Due South, distributing 22 new episodes for primetime or weekend afternoon slots. It was distributed in conjunction with Worldvision Enterprises for ad sales.[27] The unit also syndicated action hour series such as The Crow: Stairway to Heaven (based on the Miramax film with Brandon Lee. The Walt Disney Company, its owner at the time had passed on the series) and Total Recall 2070, as well as the music variety program Motown Live.[28]

In early 1999, Shortly after Seagram and Universal completed their deal to acquire PolyGram. PolyGram TV was absorbed into Universal's TV and Networks division (which consisted of Universal's international TV operations). Universal would sell the ITC film and TV library to Carlton Communications, and the pre-1996 film library to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Following this, PolyGram TV was renamed Universal Worldwide Television, and in the fall of that year, UWT launched a successful realty strip, Blind Date (which gained a sister program from the same producers, The 5th Wheel).[29] At the same time, Universal launched Universal Studios Network Programming to inherit the Brillstein-Grey productions, such as the upcoming Work with Me, and the existing Brillstein-Grey shows Just Shoot Me! and The Steve Harvey Show.[30]

By 2001, rumors began circulating about the closure of the division (and its two series would have been sold off to another syndicator). However, by October, UWT's head of sales said the closure would not happen.[31]

In June 2002, after Vivendi Universal re-acquired the entertainment arm of USA Networks. Universal Worldwide Television was merged with Studios USA Domestic Television to form Universal Television Enterprises, with Universal Domestic Television and Universal Television Distribution acting as subsidiaries of the company. Lori Shackel immediately left it as vice president of the company[32]

History

NBC Universal Television Distribution was formed in 2004 from a merger between NBC Enterprises and Universal Television Distribution. In 2004, it broke their ties with MGM Television to launch a standalone distribution operation.[33] In 2011, NBC Universal dropped its space from all of its television divisions, becoming the CamelCase style format NBCUniversal.[34][35]

In 2014, Hulu Plus reached an agreement with the company to allow streaming of television programs from NBCUniversal's series aired the previous year.[3]

On October 5, 2020, NBCUniversal Television Distribution was renamed to NBCUniversal Syndication Studios, in an effort to drop "Television" from its branding.[36][37] On December 2, 2020, NBCUniversal Syndication Studios announced that Law & Order: Special Victims Unit would air on a daily strip for syndication.[38]

Current and former programming

Off-net

See also

References

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