KTVT CBS 11 lands 'Wheel,' 'Jeopardy!'
By ED BARK / The Dallas Morning News
Wheel of Fortune's 18-year spin with WFAA-TV (Channel 8) will end this fall when the ratings-rich game show moves to KTVT-TV (Channel 11), heads of both stations have confirmed.
Channel 11 also will get Jeopardy!, which likewise has been an 18-year staple on Channel 8. Both games shows are produced by King World, whose parent company, Viacom, also owns the CBS network and a number of large-market local stations, including Channel 11.
Contracts are set to expire on both shows. But Channel 8 president and general manager Kathy Clements said the shifts have nothing to do with a competitor flexing its corporate synergy. Channel 8 prefers to move Entertainment Tonight to the key 6:30 p.m. weekday slot because its younger audience is more attractive to advertisers, she said.
Wheel is "very strong with 45- to 60-year-olds," Ms. Clements said. "The demographic profile of Entertainment Tonight [which currently airs at 11:05 p.m. on Channel 8] is a lot better balanced for us. It's something that we wanted to do, with a look to the future."
Channel 8 initially plans to double run ET, keeping the Paramount-produced show at 11:05 p.m. as well, Ms. Clements said.
Channel 11 president and general manager Steve Mauldin said his station will put Wheel at 6:30 p.m. in September while shifting Inside Edition to 4 p.m., followed by Jeopardy!
"Any way you look at it, Wheel of Fortune is a loss for them and a gain for us," he said. "Does it draw older audiences? Yes, it does. But so do the early newscasts."
Channel 8, an ABC affiliate, outbid KXAS-TV (Channel 5) for the rights to Wheel and Jeopardy in 1987. With Wheel at 6:30 p.m., Channel 8's 6 p.m. newscasts immediately knocked Channel 5's out of the No. 1 spot, beginning with the November 1987 sweeps ratings period. Advertising ratings are adjusted based on results from the season's three major sweeps competitions in May, November and February.
Channel 8's victory in November 1987 began an unbroken, 18-year string of first-place finishes at 6 p.m. in all three sweeps months. The second half of the station's 6 p.m. program historically has been higher-rated than the first, with some viewers "warming up" their sets for Wheel by tuning to Channel 8 news.
"At the end of the day, will it mean more for us to have the show than it does for Channel 8 to lose it? I don't know," Mr. Mauldin said. "But Wheel of Fortune is going to help us build an audience."
Through the first eight days of the ongoing May sweeps, Channel 11's 6 p.m. newscasts are running second with 95,040 homes while Channel 8 is averaging 181,940 homes, according to Nielsen Media Research. Wheel is still handily winning its time slot with 199,100 homes; Channel 5's second-place Extra has 136,400 homes.
Channel 8's 5 p.m. newscasts, which also have an 18-year winning streak, will continue to benefit from lead-ins by Oprah, also produced by King World. The station has the rights to Ms. Winfrey's popular talk show for several more seasons, Ms. Clements said.
Channel 8 is owned by Dallas-based Belo Corp., which also owns The Dallas Morning News.
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