Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz: The Creators of Syndication



When the creators of such mega-hits as Friends, Seinfeld and ER cash their equity syndication residual checks, they should take a moment to pay homage to Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz — two of the savviest and most innovative entrepreneurs ever to grace the star-studded streets of Tinseltown. In addition to laying the groundwork for the multibillion-dollar television syndication industry, they introduced many of the production techniques that would become standard television practice and almost single-handedly made Hollywood the television capital of the world. I Love Lucy debuted in October 1951 and quickly became one of the top-rated shows on television. The show made production in Hollywood so acceptable that by 1961 virtually every major prime-time television show was filmed on the West Coast. By insisting that I Love Lucy be recorded on film — which could be easily stored and broadcast over and over again without any degradation of picture quality — Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz initiated the industry practice of airing reruns, which led to a new market called syndication.