Scripps Stations Survive Without Top Syndies

The group owner's execs say they are pleased with the ratings of the two home-grown shows it developed to replace syndication powerhouses Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. Plus it gets to keep all the inventory in the new Let's Ask America and The List.
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When Scripps jettisoned top-rated game shows Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy in seven markets in September and replaced them with the home-grown Let’s Ask America and The List, the TV station group made a bold strategic move to take control of its programming and finances. Either that or it lost its mind.

But so far, the gamble seems to be paying off.

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"There was no scenario where we thought we would immediately replace Wheel and Jeopardy’s ratings," says Bob Sullivan, vice president of content at Scripps TV station group. "We have to rebuild the time periods. But we’re almost to goal in terms of what we thought we’d be doing — about 88% to estimate and we’re only six weeks into our first year.”

America had a 2.3 household rating in the week of Oct. 29 for the six markets where it airs in prime access, based on Nielsen live-plus-same-day ratings. It had a 1.0 among women 25-54 and a 0.8 among adults 25-54. The demo rating goals are between a 1.0 and 1.5.

“If we are consistently hitting our ratings goals in adults and women 25-54, we’re financially ahead of the game,” Sullivan says.

Sullivan concedes that the time slot ratings are two-thirds from where they were when Wheel and Jeopardy filled them. But it's not just about ratings, it's about making money, he says. "We have all the inventory. So, we have more ads to sell. And the audience we are attracting is a more targeted audience for advertisers.”

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Last week, Let’s Ask America wrapped up production on its first season’s 170 episodes. They will air through next summer, when production on season two will begin.

If the show continues to do well, and make money, it's likely that Warner Bros. will soon start selling the show to non-Scripps stations. Scripps and Warner Bros.’ Telepictures are 50-50 partners on Let’s Ask America. Warner Bros. has not announced its distribution plans for the show.

The List isn't keeping pace with America, but Sullivan says he still has confidence in it. “We’re about 70% to our estimates for the first year,” he says. “We got off to a good start and we’ve maintained it.”

So far in the November sweeps, The List has a 1.0 household rating on WMAR Baltimore, a 1.5 on KNXV Phoenix, a 2.4 each on WEWS Cleveland and WFTS Tampa, a 2.6 on KJRH Tulsa, Okla., and a 3.8 on WCPO Cincinnati.

On the show, a group of hosts count down the day’s biggest pop culture stories and most popular online videos.

The stations that picked up Wheel and Jeopardy in the seven Scripps markets are happy to have them. They are averaging year-to-year time slot increases of about 150%. Both are distributed by CBS Television Distribution.

“The ratings are through the roof,” says Bill Lanesey, general manager at Raycom Media’s Fox affiliate WXIX Cincinnati. In fact, they are three times what they were when the Fox affiliate carried news and The Simpsons in the slots.

“We realize it’ll take time for ratings to get back to where they were on [Scripps'] WCPO, but we’re barely two months into this. Our expectations are being met.”

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Comments (2) -

AZObserver Nickname posted over 4 years ago
You can spin this any way you want, but these two shows are singlehandedly destroying their time period performances. Sure, they may have all the avails in these shows, but the rates will be much lower than when they were airing "Wheel" and "Jeopardy!"
Ellene Nickname posted over 3 years ago
That was good, for sure some agency like Digitek Corporate Solutions San Francisco will be interested to that.
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Ratings

Overnights, adults 18-49 for September 28, 2016
  • 1.
    2.8/10
  • 2.
    1.9/7
  • 3.
    1.7/6
  • 4.
    1.4/5
  • 5.
    0.6/2
  • 6.
    0.4/1
Source: Nielsen

Reviews

  • Rob Owen

    Easily fall’s best broadcast network comedy pilot, NBC’s The Good Place offers a clever high-concept premise that’s complemented with intelligent, sometimes absurdist humor. Created by Michael Schur, co-creator of NBC’s Parks and Recreation, The Good Place is a highly serialized series that’s essentially set in heaven and stars Kristen Bell and Ted Danson. NBC made five episodes of The Good Place available for review, and the show not only holds up, but also it improves, deepening characters that initially feel one-note and frequently leaving viewers guessing with cliffhanger endings to many of the episodes. The combination of snappy dialogue and winning but flawed characters makes The Good Place a great bet for fans of smart TV comedy.

  • Maureen Ryan

    Pitch has swagger, for good reason. It gets the big things right; the Fox drama about the first female baseball player in the Major Leagues is one of the year’s most assured and exciting debuts. But part of what impresses about the pilot is also the way it confidently strings together so many small but telling details. Ginny (Kylie Bunbury) is the first woman to be called up from the minors to the big leagues, and no show since Friday Night Lights has done a better job of portraying the internal and external pressures that weigh heavily on young athletes asked to do much more than merely succeed on the field. Pitch will likely do a good job of getting viewers to root for it. The hope is that the show won’t be an impressive, short-lived curiosity, but rather a long-term phenomenon.

  • Kevin Fallon

    In a fall TV season that’s already making a splash for championing diverse, distinctive voices in an array of projects that they created, wrote, and starred in, Better Things on FX stands out. The show is created by, written by, and starsPamela Adlon. She plays Sam Fox, the single mother of three daughters modeled after her own reality-show-ready experience raising three girls in Los Angeles following a divorce. Sam is also, like Adlon, a working actress — on shows both raunchy, a la Californication, and animated for children, like her role on Recess. It’s a refreshingly blunt take on single motherhood without sacrificing the warmth of parental love, portraying the dance between selfishness and selflessness that’s at the heart of being a parent — especially one weathering the hormonal fireworks of a household of four women at different ages.

  • David Wiegand

    The fall TV season doesn’t count as much as it used to — we already know that. But no matter how many retreads the broadcast networks throw at viewers in the next few months, this fall will be memorable because of the premiere of Atlanta on Tuesday, Sept. 6, on FX. The half-hour comedy created by and starring Donald Glover (Community), simply and brilliantly recalibrates our expectations of what a TV comedy is and how black lives are portrayed on the medium.

  • Louisa Ada Seltzer

    The second reboot of the 1980s John Candy movie Uncle Buck, bumped by ABC from midseason, has the same tired jokes you'll find on any second-rate sitcom. Too bad, because Mike Epps is appealing and ABC would be wise to keep him around for future shows, but there’s just not enough to this show to suggest it will last past summer. It also airs against NBC’s America’s Got Talent, summer’s No. 1 program on broadcast, which may make it even harder to find an audience.

  • Neil Genzlinger

    Bryan Cranston brings his Tony Award-winning interpretation of President Lyndon B. Johnson to television in an adaptation of the Robert Schenkkan play All the Way, and it’s still quite a sight to behold, just as it was on Broadway in 2014. Nothing beats witnessing this kind of larger-than-life portrayal onstage, of course. But the television version, presented by HBO, offers plenty of rewards, allowing Cranston to work the close-ups and liberating him from the confines of a theater set. Cranston’s performance is a gem — in his hands, this accidental president comes across as an amazing bundle of contradictions, someone who seems at once too vulgar for the job and just right for it.

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