Scripps is producing a pair of new programs that will debut Sept. 17 in seven of the company's 13 TV markets. The programs, a game show called Let's Ask America and a news mag called The List, are replacing Scripps' current syndicated shows, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!, in access and early fringe.
Scripps has made a substantial effort to produce its own programming and cut back on syndicated costs. It is a partner, along with Cox and Raycom, on the daily show RightThisMinute.
Scripps worked with a market research firm to conduct what it calls "the most comprehensive national consumer study of the access hour in more than 20 years" before slotting the new shows. Both are 30-minute daily productions.
"This is an important step in our strategy to take more direct creative and economic control of the content that serves our viewers and supports our advertisers across the country," said Rich Boehne, Scripps president and CEO. "There's no more important place to be an entrepreneur than in the creation of programming for the growing menu of screens that carry our brands."
Scripps says both shows are consistent with its journalistic bent. With Jim Paratore as executive producer, Let's Ask America features contestants who are linked digitally from their homes to answer questions that Scripps says "are weighted toward current events." The show is produced by Telepictures and paraMedia inc and distributed by Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution. The format will be distributed internationally by Warner Bros. International Television Production.
The List is a nightly news magazine "at the intersection of news and pop culture," says Scripps. "The show's design is to entertain and pull back the curtain on the top-trending stories of the day delivered in the user-friendly and popular form of lists."
Rick Joyce, formerly of Entertainment Tonight, is exec producer of The List. Additional programming will come from the national investigative unit of the Scripps news service in Washington, as well as Scripps stations.
The series will be made available outside of the Scripps markets through Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution for a fall 2013 national launch and prior, as appropriate time periods become available.
"We launch these new shows with great confidence that they will engage a broad audience that will be attractive to advertisers," said Brian Lawlor, senior VP of the Scripps television division. "We have invested many months of research to find winning formulas that will inform and entertain audiences. Our extensive testing convinced us that we have the ingredients for some of the most-appealing new content to be introduced in the access and early-fringe hours in many years."
Scripps' sister cable nets, including Food Network, have a rich history of producing programming.
As was previously reported in B&C, Bob Sullivan, VP of content at Scripps, has been involved in hatching new homegrown shows for the group.
The shows launch in Phoenix, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Tampa and Tulsa. When contracts for other syndicated shows expire in the remaining Scripps markets (Detroit, Denver, San Diego, Indianapolis, Kansas City, West Palm Beach and Bakersfield), Let's Ask America and The List will move into those timeslots.