The Media Notepad: Judy Sheindlin strikes deal with Amazon

Credit: CBS

Also: This TV/Light TV has new owner; Rock 95.5 does modestly well in first survey

As anticipated following her announcement on Ellen earlier this year, Judy Sheindlin released more information about her new project Thursday in a press release.

For one, the her new courtroom show is still untitled – but perhaps the biggest takeaway is beginning next year, her new show is airing exclusively on a streaming service iMDB TV -a partnership between the website and Amazon.

“Judge Judy Sheindlin is a TV icon and visionary who has entertained millions of fans for decades. As we build the IMDb TV slate of high-quality, ambitious Amazon Studios Originals,” said Lauren Anderson and Ryan Pirozzi, co-heads of content and programming for IMDb TV.  “We are delighted to deliver customers a court program from the legendary Judge Sheindlin who, without a doubt, is the very best in the business.”

According to Deadline, one hundred episodes have been ordered but there is no word on how many episodes would be distributed a time, or if it would be done so on a daily or weekly basis.

Sheindlin declined to renew her contract with CBS Television Distribution, meaning Judge Judy is coming to an end next spring after 25 seasons. It has been syndication’s top-rated show for the last few years, although this past week it was bumped from the top spot by Family Feud.

Even though reruns have been sold in deals to unidentified stations starting next fall, the loss of Judy Sheindlin is yet another blow to broadcast TV and the syndication business as linear outlets are finding it harder to compete with streaming services. Just two weeks ago, Apple TV took over the rights of all Peanuts holiday specials, ousting ABC after twenty years and ending a 55-year run on broadcast network television.

Judy currently airs at 4 p.m. on CBS-owned WBBM-TV with new episodes (and without audiences due to the pandemic.) She remains executive producer of another show she created (Hot Bench), which moved to WCIU after being bounced out of its 2 p.m. time slot for The Drew Barrymore Show on WBBM in September, and both are syndicated by CTD, who’ll remain Bench’s syndicator next season if it returns.

The first ratings are in for iHeartMedia’s new Rock 95 Five  (WCHI-FM, formerly WEBG-FM) and the station is off to a decent start.

According to figures released by Nielsen on Tuesday, Rock 95 Five finished tied for nineteenth place with ratings up 22 percent from a month ago when the station was still playing country music for all but the last week of the survey period. The station switched to Mainstream Rock on September 3.

The arrival of Rock 95 Five certainly took a bite out of the numbers for Entercom’s WXRT-FM, who fell from a tie for third to eighth. But it had no effect on Hubbard’s The Drive (WDRV-FM), who surged to third place.

Meanwhile, the departure of Big 95.5 FM had no effect on US 99 (WUSN-FM) who were flat, suggesting those former listeners may have fled to alternative country music outlets, via Sirius/XM, internet radio, or streaming.

iHeart’s V103 (WVAZ-FM) dominated the market for the second straight month, proving their rapid rise to the top was no fluke with the stations finishing first in each key daypart (with the exception of middays, which went to WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM), led by Steve Harvey in the mornings.

On note is the huge leap Newsweb’s WCPT-AM made in the rankings to 24th place, from practically below the ground two months ago, though behind conservative talk WLS-AM (Salem’s WIND-AM does not subscribe to Nielsen.) Credit election season for the ratings increases.

But as you know, all of these rankings will change after the next survey period because…Santa Claus is coming to town to deliver ratings goodies to iHeart’s WLIT-FM, who’ll switch to a Christmas music format in the next week, or so.

Byron Allen, head of Entertainment Studios. (Variety)

In a surprise move, comic-turned-media mogul Byron Allen announced two new channels in his stable: diginets This TV and Light TV as MGM has decided to exit the business,

With these acquisitions, Allen now owns The Weather Channel, Entertainment Studios, and twelve local TV stations, among others. Both This and Light are seen in an estimated 81 million households.

“I am happy to announce that Allen Media Group has achieved another critical milestone by successfully acquiring two over-the-air broadcast television networks This TV and Light TV from MGM,” said Byron Allen, founder-chairman-CEO of Entertainment Studios/Allen Media Group and one of the few African-Americans in an ownership role in the media industry. “We are going to continue to invest a substantial amount of capital into the programming, marketing and distribution of these networks. We are strong believers in broadcasting and free-streaming direct-to-consumer platforms.”

This TV was launched on November 1, 2008 in a partnership with Weigel Broadcasting, but approximately five years later was replaced by Tribune Media with This relocating from the subchannel of WCIU to WGN locally. Approximately a year ago as the company was about to be sold to Nexstar, Tribune exited its relationship with MGM as it became sole owner after Tribune signed a deal with Court TV to replace the movie diginet.

This has since resurfaced at low-power WRJK-LP. Wikipedia lists its headquarters as Chicago; it is not known if this would be the case in the future.

Light TV – a network featuring family-friendly TV series and movies was launched in 2016 and was headed by MGM CEO Mark Burnett and wife Roma Downey on the diginet channels of some Fox-owned stations, including WFLD-TV here.

This past summer, Allen and his company settled a lawsuit with Comcast over distribution of his cable channels on their systems after deciding to withdraw his case from the Supreme Court as they struck down much of his lawsuit. Rep. Bobby Rush slammed Comcast last year over the issue. 


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