Debmar-Mercury, Fremantle to launch “Buzzr TV”

"Family Feud" with original host Richard Dawson.
“Family Feud” with original host Richard Dawson.

Both companies strike deal with Fox Television Stations to carry new classic game show channel

In news that would no doubt please classic game shows fans, a new digital subchannel featuring the genre is launching this summer thanks to Fremantle Media NorthAmerica and Debmar-Mercury.

The two companies are launching Buzzr TV, a new classic game show channel molded in the form of the original Game Show Network (GSN), where only a handful of these programs still run. Mining the 40,000 hours of programming in Fremantle’s library, classic game shows include (and not limited to) Family Feud, The Price Is Right, Beat The Clock, Match Game, Tattletales, Let’s Make A Deal, and Press Your Luck.

Buzzr is launching this summer on all seventeen Fox O&O markets, including the Fox duopoly in Chicago.

Syndicator Debmar-Mercury helped broker the deal with the Fox-owned stations on behalf of Fremantle, and both are at NATPE  (which began today and runs through Thursday.) to pitch the channel to station groups. Debmar-Mercury syndicates Family Feud and Celebrity Name Game, both produced by Fremantle.

Buzzzr TV will air on the digital subchannels of either WFLD or WPWR. In a few Fox markets, Bzzzr replaces Bounce, which is switching over to the subchannels of Univision-owned stations later this year (but not in Chicago, where it remains on WCIU-Ch. 26.5)

Among the classic shows featured when the channel launches is Family Feud, which ran in daytime on ABC and CBS and in syndication through Viacom, LBS, All American, Pearson, Fremantle (when it was a syndicator), Tribune, and Debmar-Mercury. The list of hosts include Richard Dawson, Ray Combs, Louie Anderson, Richard Karn (yes, Richard Karn) and John O’Hurley.

The current version (now airing in first-run syndication and in reruns on GSN) with Steve Harvey, host since 2010, is expected to be added later. Premiering in 1976, Feud has aired continuously since 1999 when Anderson became host.

Originally, the Fremantle library of game shows were featured in the early years of GSN, which made up the bulk of its schedule. But the classic library has been cut back in the last decade or so, to make room for more original programming and reruns of (you guessed it) the current version of Feud. Classic game show programming is now regulated to weekday mornings.

Buzzr comes amid a flurry of new diginet channel announcements in recent weeks, including LAFF, Heroes & Icons, Decades, and The Justice Network, which launched today.