×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

ABC Shells Out to Keep ‘Wheel of Fortune’ and ‘Jeopardy’ After Big Offer From Fox

Disney and Fox found themselves wrapped up in another bidding war earlier this year, but this time around it involved vowels, consonants and answers posed in the form of questions.

The ABC Owned Television Stations group has renewed the syndicated game shows “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy” through the 2022-23 television season. The shows have aired on ABC-owned stations for decades, but the renewal process became more lively for CBS Television Distribution this time around because the Fox Television Stations group mounted a huge rival offer for the early evening stalwarts away in top markets including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

Sources close to the situation said the eight ABC O&Os had to pony up sizable increases to keep the shows for the first time in years because there typically have been no rival offers to juice the market. But Fox O&Os have long had their eye on bringing “Wheel” and “Jeopardy” on fold. As the renewal came up, Fox pounced.

Knowledgeable sources said that ABC was forced to step up its offer although they did not match the offer on the table for Fox. “Wheel” and “Jeopardy” are known to command low six-figure weekly license fees in New York and L.A., the two largest TV markets.

CBS Television Distribution, which has distributed “Wheel” and “Jeopardy” since CBS acquired King World Productions in 2000, likely calculated that the audience disruption caused by a move of the shows in top markets would not be worth the extra coin offered by Fox.

Fox’s interest in the shows is a signal that the company is readying for a new era for the Fox broadcast network following the sale of other 21st Century Fox assets to Disney. The Fox network is expected to emphasize live sports, WWE and other broad-based programming, which would make “Wheel” and Jeopardy” more compelling as lead-ins than they would be with Fox’s traditional emphasis on younger audiences and edgier entertainment fare.

“The iconic game shows, ‘Wheel of Fortune’ and ‘Jeopardy’ have long been fan favorites and mainstays in our ABC Owned Stations’ television lineups,” said Wendy McMahon, president of ABC Owned Television Stations Group. “Our brands are connected in a positive way in the hearts and minds of our viewers.”

“Wheel” and “Jeopardy” have aired on ABC O&Os for decades — since 1990-91 season on WABC-TV New York and since 1992-93 on KABC-TV Los Angeles. CBS has protected ABC as the incumbent home of the shows, so much so that it never moved the highly rated shows to its own O&O stations. Sony Pictures Entertainment owns “Wheel” and “Jeopardy” (thanks it its purchase of the library of series creator Merv Griffin), and surely that studio might have objected to a station switch that could cost both shows many ratings points.

“Wheel” this season is averaging about 9.3 million viewers, while “Jeopardy” is pulling in about 9 million viewers.

ABC’s previous contract for the shows ran through the 2019-2020 season. The new three-year pact takes the shows through the 2022-23 season, which will mark year 40 for “Wheel” in syndication and year 39 for “Jeopardy.” Both shows aired daytime incarnations before they were revived for the lucrative 7-8 p.m. time slot leading into primetime.

“ ‘Wheel of Fortune’ and ‘Jeopardy’ are two of the longest-running shows on television – and for good reason,” said Steve Hackett, president of sales for CBS TV Distribution. “They consistently deliver entertaining, timeless programming that the whole family can enjoy together, creating whole new generations of fans. We’re excited they will continue to anchor stations’ lineups, delivering eyeballs and ad dollars to our partners, for many years to come.”

More TV

  • Prince Albert II of Monaco (C),

    Jessica Alba, Gabrielle Union's 'L.A.’s Finest' Opens Monte Carlo TV Festival

    Prince Albert II of Monaco opened the 59th Monte Carlo Television Festival on Friday at a glittering ceremony at the principality’s Grimaldi Forum attended by Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba. The Hollywood actresses presented the French premiere of their action cop series “L.A.’s Finest,” which has just been renewed for a second season. “You typically [...]

  • Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba'L.A.'s Finest'

    Jessica Alba, Gabrielle Union Speak About Horrific 'L.A.’s Finest' On-Set Accident

    Actresses Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba spoke about how the horrific accident on the set of their action cop series “L.A.’s Finest” affected them and the crew at the 59th Monte Carlo Television Festival Saturday. They also paid tribute to the main victim of the incident, executive producer/co-showrunner Brandon Sonnier, whose leg was amputated below [...]

  • Emmys: How a Social Media Campaign

    How a Social Media Campaign to Game the Emmys Led to This Week's 'Block Voting' Scandal

    The Television Academy’s “block voting” controversy has quickly become the talk of Emmy season — and that appears to have been the org’s point. According to multiple insiders, the number of people disqualified from voting in this year’s competition is believed to be small, only around three members (out of nearly 25,000 members overall). But [...]

  • No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No

    TV News Roundup: Hulu Drops Trailer for 'Veronica Mars' Revival (Watch)

    In today’s roundup, Hulu dropped the official trailer for the “Veronica Mars” revival and HBO revealed more cast members for “Lovecraft Country.” FIRST LOOKS Hulu has dropped the official trailer for its revival of “Veronica Mars,” set to premiere on July 26. The series will bring back most of the original cast, including Kristen Bell, Jason [...]

  • Dan Stevens

    'Legion' Star Dan Stevens Says His Character Would Fight Thanos, 'Wreak Havoc' in MCU

    Dan Stevens said his powerful, telepathic mutant Legion would do some serious damage if he ever crossed over from the eponymous FX series into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “Legion would wreak havoc. He’d probably take on Thanos, let’s see that,” he told Variety on the red carpet at the premiere of the trippy, mind-bending superhero series [...]

  • Viacom CEO Bob Bakish

    Bob Bakish Talks Pluto TV, Netflix and CBS-Viacom Merger Rumors

    Viacom CEO Bob Bakish knows that a lot of his peers are in the original content space in streaming, but he believes the company’s ad-supported free service Pluto TV is better off relying on Viacom’s library of content. “We can debate a lot of things about the future, but in the near term, the opportunity [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content