Fox renews four syndicated shows

Re-ups take time periods off the board for potential newbies

The CW is known for renewing everything (except Katy Keene obviously) so Fox First-Run decided to do likewise and renew its entire its entire catalog of first-run syndicated shows for next season. The shows are Dish Nation, Divorce Court, You Bet Your Life, and 25 Words or Less.

Three months ago, Fox acquired the syndication rights to TMZ and companion TMZ Live from Warner Media and will also be back next season under existing contracts. As reported here recently, Fox is partnering with CBS Media Ventures on Pictionary for next season with the latter handling sales and barter time. 

Fox is building its syndication portfolio after much of the former 21st Century Fox properties were acquired by The Walt Disney Company in 2017, including its syndication arm Twentieth Television as the new Fox Corporation unit retained Dish, Divorce, and 25 Words

“Fox First Run’s main priority is to focus always on our audience first, by allowing them to appear, contribute, play and win,” said Fox Television Stations executive vice president of programming Stephen Brown in a statement. “All of our programming both, present and ones in development, have two key elements — extensive interactivity and pure entertainment.” 

The renewals come despite the fact none of the shows had a household rating above a 1. In the latest rating report, both You Bet and 25 Words had a 0.7 followed by Divorce Court’s 0.5 and Dish Nation’s 0.2. Even though the low ratings suggest none of these shows are worth keeping around, Fox needs programming to fill slots on its Fox-owned and My Network TV stations, including Fox 32 and My50 here in Chicago as the vertical integration works for them.

The biggest takeaway is You Bet Your Life picking up a second season, with Jay Leno going farther than Bill Cosby and Buddy Hackett did in their respective revivals of the Groucho Marx classic. Even though the show finishes tied for a distant fourth among game shows, Fox points out You Bet “is the youngest syndicated game show with the highest concentration of key demos among all game shows”, which is a surprise given Leno is traditionally a weak draw with young viewers, so there may or may not be any truth to this statement. Still, You Bet has drawn 1.1 million viewers a day on average and is obviously cheaper to run than off-network sitcoms in the 5 to 8 p.m. slot they traditionally occupied and stations don’t have to share the show with cable or streamers. 

Moreover, the renewals keep potential new projects away from those time slots as there’s been little activity on the front other than Pictionary and a talk show from Jennifer Hudson. Debmar-Mercury’s Wendy Williams and Nick Cannon are reportedly on the bubble, but both are likely to return, Williams’ health issues notwithstanding. As announced earlier, Ellen DeGeneres and Maury Povich are retiring, but the latter is expected to remain in reruns. And of course, Dr. Oz is moving on to politics but Sony is handing over his old time periods (though this isn’t the case in Atlanta) to his daughter’s new show The Good Dish


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