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‘Jeopardy,’ ‘Wheel’ roll into 2007

K-W inks syndie one-two ratings punch

King World will pocket another $100 million for a two-year renewal of “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy” on WABC New York, KABC Los Angeles and WLS Chicago plus four other ABC-owned TV stations.

The dollar figure comes from station and rep sources: King World confirmed the renewal for the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons but declined to discuss its contracts.

“Wheel” begins its 20th season in firstrun syndication this fall, and “Jeopardy” its 19th. King World said “Wheel” has finished first among all syndicated five-a-weekers for 74 consecutive sweep periods. “Jeopardy” has come in second for 67 consecutive sweeps, the company said.

Despite the gaudy household ratings of “Wheel” and “Jeopardy,” the decision to renew them through the fall of 2007 was not a slam-dunk for ABC because, like almost all gameshows, both programs deliver a disproportionate number of older viewers.

That demographic provides a less-than-desirable lead-in to the primetime schedule of ABC (Daily Variety, April 21), which is pushing hard this season and next to pad the number of 18-to-49 year olds that watch the network. Advertisers will pay a premium for the 18 to 49s.

But King World and producer Columbia TriStar TV Distribution give credit to Harry Friedman, the executive producer of both shows, for constantly tweaking “Wheel” and “Jeopardy” when they show any signs of growing stale.

The other ABC stations onboard the “Wheel”/”Jeopardy” express through 2007 are WPVI Philadelphia, KGO San Francisco, WTVD Raleigh/Durham, N.C., and KFSN Fresno, Calif.

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