ABC has hosted the two powerhouse game shows for decades, but this year their ownership came under fire. Fox Television Stations reportedly made a generous counter-offer in an attempt to win the shows over, forcing ABC to raise the stakes.
In the end, ABC managed to hold onto Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy through the 2022-2023 TV season, but they had to pay through the nose to do it. Sources with insider information said that ABC paid substantial increases to both shows. In fairness, the syndicated game show market has reportedly been non-competitive for many years, so the influx of cash and interest was welcome.
According to the insiders, Fox has been planning to try and snipe the shows for a while, waiting for this contract re-negotiation. They also said that ABC did not match Fox's price — they merely raised their own to be a little closer. Rather than go through the hassle of migrating to another network, they took what they could get at home on ABC.
Both shows reportedly operate with licensing fees in the low six-figure range in New York and Los Angeles. Variety's report speculates that these shows would have been strategic parts of Fox's re-branding. The network is putting more energy into live sports and events such as WWE. They figured that these shows would entice older, more conventional audiences.
“The iconic game shows, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy have long been fan favorites and mainstays in our ABC Owned Stations’ television line-ups,” said ABC Owned Television Stations Group president Wendy McMahon. “Our brands are connected in a positive way in the hearts and minds of our viewers.”
Of course, this is a small microcosm of a much larger bidding war between these two companies this year. As previously reported, ABC's parent company Disney has nearly finished a deal to acquire 21st Century Fox — Fox's movie and TV branch. The deal was approved by shareholders from both companies back in July, and it is expected to be closed for good within the first half of next year.
To most fans, this deal opens up one key door — the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With this acquisition, the X-Men and other properties previously excluded from Disney's Marvel adaptations are now fair game. However, it also represents a historic shrinking of the entertainment industry, as an already-massive company absorbs one of its biggest competitors.