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‘Wheel,’ ‘Jeopardy!’ to Roll Into 2011-12

Jan 1, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Two of syndication’s veteran staples have solidified their places on station lineups heading into this month’s National Association of Television Programming Executives convention.

CBS Television Distribution, which distributes stalwart game shows “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!,” has renewed the series for another two years on a number of different stations, the distributor announced. The additional two years guarantees the pair, which Sony Pictures Television produces, will stay on the air into the next decade, through the 2011-12 season.

With the two shows planted in prime access time periods in the major markets, the renewals, although expected, lock up valuable real estate in syndication. The deal, joined with longterm commitments from the NBC and CBS stations groups for their newsmagazines, all but guarantees that the country’s highest-profile time periods for syndicators will remain stable.

The “Wheel” and “Jeopardy!” deals keep both series renewed through 2012 in about one-third of the country. Stations from the ABC, CBS, Post-Newsweek, Hearst-Argyle and Sinclair station groups are on board for more years of the shows.

By the end of this new deal, “Wheel of Fortune” will have completed 29 seasons and “Jeopardy!” will have finished 28 seasons. “Wheel” and “Jeopardy!” are averaging national household ratings this season of 8.3 and 6.5 respectively, up one and two percent over season-to-date scores in the 2005-06 season, according to Nielsen Media Research.

This growth comes at a time when game shows continue to be hot commodities for audiences, with three of the four series in the category improving over year-ago numbers. This is in sharp contrast to other genres that have taken steep hits, especially off-net series.

“These new sales reflect what the ratings prove every week-`Wheel of Fortune’ and `Jeopardy!’ are two of the most valuable properties in syndication,” said Roger King, CEO of CBS Television Distribution. “It’s a real tribute to our production partner, Sony, and executive producer, Harry Friedman, that after more than 20 years, these are still two of the highest-rated shows in syndication.”

Mr. Friedman, who is known to update both productions each season, said that with the renewals, his production team “will continue to infuse our classic games with energy and originality through 2012 and beyond.”

The latest deal adds to CBS’s roster of syndicated series planted into the next decade.

“The Oprah Winfrey Show” has been sold through the 2010-11 season, as has “Dr. Phil,” while “Inside Edition” is cleared through the 2011-12 season for the company. Pop culture newmagazines “Entertainment Tonight” and “The Insider” are sold into the 2012 and 2013 seasons and court shows “Judge Judy” and “Judge Joe Brown” are currently set to air through at least the 2009-10 season.

Stations renewing “Wheel of Fortune” include the ABC owned-and-operated stations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Raleigh-Durham, N.C., and Fresno, Calif., as well as stations in the following top 25 markets: KTVT-TV, Dallas (CBS Television Stations); WSBK-TV, Boston (CBS Television Stations); WDIV-TV, Detroit (Post-Newsweek Stations); WCCO-TV, Minneapolis (CBS Television Stations); and WPLG-TV, Miami (Post-Newsweek Stations).

Stations re-upping `Jeopardy!’ include the ABC owned-and-operated stations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Raleigh-Durham, N.C., and Fresno, Calif., as well as stations in the following top 25 markets: KTVT-TV, Dallas (CBS Television Stations); WSBK-TV, Boston (CBS Television Stations); WDIV-TV, Detroit (Post-Newsweek Stations); and WPLG-TV, Miami (Post-Newsweek Stations).

The deals come as other distributors are locking up station deals ahead of NATPE, which will take place in Las Vegas Jan. 16-18. Among them, Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution has guaranteed that “The Tyra Banks Show” will continue past its current sophomore season, announcing renewals for two more seasons with the Fox station group through the 2008-09 season.

“`Tyra’ has shown steady growth over its first 18 months on the air and has broadened its demographic appeal, especially in the 18 to 49 and 25 to 54 demos,” said Ken Werner, president of WBDTD. “Fox, Sinclair and other `Tyra’ stations have remarked on how this series has truly blossomed on the air.”