Friday, April 8, 2011

Syndicating The Clone Wars: If and When We Could See It.


We now have three full seasons of The Clone Wars in the books.  That is 66 episodes that have aired and getting awfully close to the magic number of 100, which is both the series original target for number of episodes as well as the magic number of episodes for successful syndication.  What is syndication?

From the Wikipedia article on Broadcast syndication:

In broadcasting, syndication is the sale of the right to broadcast radio shows and television shows to multiple individual stations, without going through a broadcast network...
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. Typically, this means that enough episodes must exist (88 episodes, or four seasons, is the usual minimum,[2] 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 shown again. 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.
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, hourlong 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 episodes.
Before the release of TCW series it appears the "plan" was to go for at least 100 episodes. 5 x 22 = 110, 6 x 22 = 132.  At 22 minutes an episode that would be between 2,240 to 2,904 minutes of Star Wars.

From a March 2008 Interview:

CS: Do you see the show going on for a long time? It obviously takes a long time to produce computer animation.
Lucas: We've been doing this for three years. We have one year finished, we're in the middle of the second year. I've written the third year. We expect this to go on for at least five or six years. 

Lucas at Paley Fest 2007: 

Lucas said the Clone Wars series would be 3D animated and that there would be 100 episodes produced, promising something, "a little bit more like the movie" than the shorts were, adding they'd contain more of the movies "ambiance." Lucas said his intent was to "push the boundaries of what can be done" in television animation. He also revealed that the series would vary in tone from episode to episode, saying some installments might be more comedic than others, though he promised it wouldn't be "Saturday morning" type humor. 

Lucasfilm currently has a deal in place with Turner and its network, Cartoon Network to air The Clone Wars.  But what is the future of TCW?  Will we see it join The Simpsons and other both animated shows and Live Action Sitcoms in the syndicated afternoon television rotation?  If TCW does go to syndication, will it happen while the series is still airing current episodes on Cartoon Network, or will Lucas wait until the series is completed to sell it through syndication?

It would be great to see TCW reach even more households and fans then it does now on CN.  I don't think we see any syndication of the show until after Season 5 at the earliest, even assuming the show lasts 6-8 seasons in total.  But with the Star Wars saga coming to Blu Ray, a 3D re-release of all the movies, and potential TCW syndication on the horizon, maybe just maybe Lucasfilm will have the money to get the Star Wars Live-Action Series off the ground.  Here's to hoping, because more Star Wars is never a bad thing.

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