“Wheel”, “Jeopardy” renewed through 2018

121029jeopardy-wheel1_300x206As expected, CBS Television Distribution’s Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy have been renewed for another two years, taking the veteran game shows through the 2017-18 television season.

The options for hosts Pat Sajak, Vanna White, and Alex Trebek were picked up a few weeks ago, so the game shows’ renewals were right around the corner.

CTD has renewed both shows in 80 percent of the country,  including seven ABC-owned stations, WLS-TV in Chicago among them. The deals keep Jeopardy and Wheel in their 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. slots, respectively. The renewals takes Wheel through its 35th season in syndication and Jeopardy through its 34th.

Other groups renewing the two programs include Cox, Dispatch, Graham, Meredith, NBC, Tribune, and Scripps. The Scripps mention is notable since many of those stations in the group dropped Wheel and Jeopardy in 2012 for their own, company-produced programming: the now-defunct Let’s Ask America and The List, which is still in production.

The president of sales at CTD pointed out the shows’ top-rated positions in syndication in addition to pulling in a lot of political advertising for local stations, given their older skew and sparse DVR use (not to mention a lot of pharmaceutical ads.)

However, both programs have had to fend off serious challenges to their dominance in recent years: one is from Judge Judy, which like Wheel and Jeopardy is from CTD, and has often topped both shows this season.

The other is from Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud, whose ratings have surged since Steve Harvey became host in 2010. In recent weeks, Feud has closed in on Wheel and Jeopardy for top-rated game show – the closest Feud has been since the 1983-84 season during the waning days of the Richard Dawson era.