We’ve seen plenty of Star Trek promotion over the years — merchandising ads, television previews, web spots, movie trailers — but there’s one side of the process rarely seen by fans: syndication sales.

Selling commercial time to advertisers is a primary source of income for television stations, and Paramount’s television group frequently used Star Trek: The Next Generation as a draw to sell their syndication packages to local stations all around the United States.

High ratings in key demographics gave The Next Generation a clear edge in attracting potential ad buyers — and in addition to in-person sales calls, Paramount Television also took out print ads in industry publications to showcase these ratings to the broadcasting audience at large.

These creative and unique ads are full of statistics and artwork never featured in other ‘civilian’ publications, and we’re happy to be able to showcase them here for the first time online.

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January 19, 1987: “…taking TV syndication where no show has gone before.”

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November 30, 1987: “…renewed for ’88.”

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January 4, 1988: “A peak performer…”

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January 25, 1988: “The Next Generation is #1”

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April 18, 1988: “…this season’s new hit series.”

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May 16, 1988: “…the four tops.”

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July 18, 1988: “It’s like dying and going to heaven.”

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January 2, 1989: “The era of the independent is here.”

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January 23, 1989: “…the Paramount ‘big bang theory’ works.”

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April 10, 1989: “The syndicated hour with network power.”

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July 24, 1989: “…getting to the top is now as easy as 1-2-3.”

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July 24, 1989: “…putting space between you and the competition.”

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January 1, 1990: “There’s more to the Paramount mountain than meets the eye.”

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January 15, 1990: “…the perfect vehicle for any enterprising television station.”

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December 30, 1990: “Big shows. Big stars. Big audiences.”

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January 14, 1991: “Syndication’s biggest success story.”

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May 13, 1991: “…giving future generations more to wonder at.”

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July 1, 1991: “…we’re only just hitting our prime.”

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January 6, 1992: “If you need an effective way to reach a lot of men…”

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July 6, 1992: “…we’re still ahead of our time.”

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November 23, 1992: “What’s the real American pastime?”

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We dug up these ads from Broadcasting Magazine, an industry publication that’s been operating since 1931. Many of these images are from scans we’ve taking directly from issues of the magazine, but a few (in lower quality) are sourced from the massive public archives available at the American Radio History website.

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  • Nathan Sweeney

    January 25, 1998: “The Next Generation is #1”
    Should probably read 1988.

    Interesting to see how syndication was pitched to TV stations.

  • This is interesting; thanks for showing us this. Do you have similar stuff for the pitch for TOS, years earlier?

    • …maybe. 😉

    • Simon

      TOS wasn’t first run syndicated.

      • No, of course it wasn’t. I SAW it on NBC, back when it was first aired.

        The fact remains that TOS WAS syndicated eventually, and that syndication did garner it a huge amount of popularity and also made a huge amount of money for (at the time) Paramount. I wondered what pitch they used to syndicate it.

  • James

    Interesting, I’d appreciate more features on TNG’s early years. Reading some of the old Starlog mags from back in the day (1988), the vitriol directed at the then new TNG makes those complaining about Abrams’ Trek look like his biggest fans by comparison. Man, there was so much hate in some of those letters….

    New stars, new voyages, new worlds to explore….

    Incidentally, I had a poster of the Enterprise and the asteroid (above ‘theory’ in the images above) which I loved. Sadly it’s long since gone – if anyone has a high res copy of it, I’d be much obliged.

    • Simon

      TNG would not have survived its first season had there been an internet as we know it today. The “fans” would have strangled the baby in its crib, just as they’re trying to do to DISCOVERY (which hasn’t even aired yet) and the reboot films now.