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Fox Stations to Launch Game Show Digital Channel From FremantleMedia

FremantleMedia North America is looking to get new life out of old assets with the launch of BuzzrTV, a digital multicast channel devoted to vintage game shows.

The Fox O&O stations have picked up the channel for a summer debut in 17 top markets. The deal was  brokered for FremantleMedia by distrib Debmar-Mercury.

FremantleMedia boasts the world’s largest library of game shows — some 40,000-plus episodes — through its ownership of the Goodson-Todman archive and other gameshow chestnuts such as “Let’s Make a Deal.”  The classic Goodson-Todman panel shows such as “Match Game,” “What’s My Line,” “To Tell the Truth” and “Password” retain a kitschy appeal because they feature so many celebs and TV regulars from the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s.

The move to mine the game show vault is a no-brainer for Fremantle at a time when the largest U.S. station groups are finally starting to make use of their digital multicast real estate.

 

Independent outfits such as Wiegel Broadcasting and Tribune Broadcasting have had success in assembling vintage TV reruns into multicast channels Me TV and Antenna TV, respectively. Those 24-hour feeds are offered to outside stations on a syndicated basis in which stations turn over a portion of the advertising time to the distributors of the channel, in the same way that distributors of most first-run syndicated shows receive a barter advertising time from stations as part of the license agreement.

CBS stations are entering the multicast market this year with the Decades channel that will showcase the Eye’s vast library with a  curated channel that will highlight specific themes or ties to historical anniversaries. Sony Pictures has its GetTV classic movie showcase. Katz Broadcasting is about to launch a comedy channel in partnership with the ABC O&Os, LAFF. Fox stations also carry the Movies! channel that is programmed by Wiegel. MGM and startup entities such as Atlanta-based Bounce TV have also harnessed the power of multicast distribution to launch advertising-supported channels.

“When I joined the company two years ago, it became instantly clear that there was a huge opportunity for us to not only be a producer in the space, but also a programmer. We are thrilled to have Fox, one of the nation’s largest owned-and-operated network broadcast groups, as our launch partner on BuzzrTV,” said FremantleMedia North America CEO Thom Beers.

Debmar-Mercury will shop BuzzrTV to other stations during the National Assn. of Television Program Executives confab, which runs through Thursday in Miami Beach.

“The possibilities to have fun creatively, and to make it fun for the viewer, are endless. And in a (digital multicast) landscape this competitive, the ability to control your own product is a big plus,” said Frank Cicha, senior VP of programming for Fox Television Stations. “FremantleMedia can certainly do that.”

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