Scripps Replaces Syndies With Own Shows

Beginning Sept. 17, Let’s Ask America and The List will move into access and early fringe lineups in seven markets. When contracts for syndicated shows expire in the remaining Scripps markets (Detroit, Denver, San Diego, Indianapolis, West Palm Beach, Fla., and Bakersfield, Calif.), the two new half-hours will move into those timeslots. The series will be made available outside of the Scripps markets through Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution for a fall 2013 national launch.

The E.W. Scripps Co. said Tuesday that it plans to produce two original shows with national appeal that will begin airing Sept. 17 in seven of the company’s 13 television markets.

The new shows are replacing the company’s current lineup of syndicated programming in the time periods before the networks’ primetime lineup (access) or before early evening local newscasts (early fringe).

The new programming begins in September in the Scripps markets of Phoenix; Cleveland; Cincinnati; Baltimore; Tampa, Fla.; Kansas City, Mo., and Tulsa, Olka. When contracts for other syndicated shows expire in the remaining Scripps markets (Detroit, Denver, San Diego, Indianapolis, West Palm Beach, Fla., and Bakersfield, Calif.), Let’s Ask America and The List will move into those timeslots.

Scripps said it worked with a market research firm to conduct “the most-comprehensive national consumer study of the access hour in more than 20 years.” Surveys and market analysis revealed specific information categories desired by today’s access audience. After generating and reviewing dozens of demo reels of shows in those categories and testing the most-promising concepts with broad-based focus groups, Scripps has given the green light to a pair of 30-minute daily shows:

  • Game show Let’s Ask America. Unlike other game shows, the contestants are not in the same studio; they instead are linked digitally from the comfort of their own homes to answer questions that — consistent, Scripps said, with its mission as a journalism company — are weighted toward current events. In other words, Let’s Ask America gives contestants the chance to win cash and prizes from their couches. The format of Let’s Ask America, powered by contemporary technology, reflects the audience desire for new twists on the game show concept. 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 show is helmed by executive producer Jim Paratore, who is president of paraMedia inc and the highly successful creator and an executive producer of TMZ and a former executive producer of The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Lopez Tonight.

  • The List is a nightly news magazine “at the intersection of news and pop culture.” 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. “The List delivers water cooler buzz with a light edge, keeping you up to date and in the know with money-saving tips and inspiring stories,” Scripps says. The List will offer advice to make life better, and include videos and tips to be shared with friends and family.

    The List will use an ensemble cast of national and local vloggers (video bloggers), Web content experts, and multimedia journalists covering national topics with availabilities for localized content. Additional programming will come from the national investigative unit of the Scripps news service in Washington, as well as local Scripps affiliates. Rick Joyce, the executive producer of The List spent 10 years as news director of Entertainment Tonight and created and executive produced an entertainment website called


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 thereto as appropriate time periods become available.

“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-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 has a long and successful history as a content producer for television. In addition to extensive local news and information programming, Scripps also spent 15 years producing content for its own and other cable TV networks. The cable network division, which included Home & Garden Television and Food Network, was spun off into a separate company, Scripps Networks Interactive, in 2008.

More recently, Scripps has collaborated with Cox Media and Raycom Media to produce RightThisMinute, a daily, 60-minute program that tells the news and stories of the day through cell phones, webcams, digital cameras and Skype accounts. RightThisMinute launched in fall 2011 and will expand to more than 50 markets by this fall.

Comments (3)

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Abbie Harrison says:

May 23, 2012 at 10:48 am

It sounds like the final nail in the coffin for stations like WEWS and WCPO….dumping Wheel and Jeopardy just because they’re too expensive. Over the last decade, WEWS has slipped in the ratings and literally given WOIO and WKYC the golden opportunity to rise out of last place. Losing Wheel and Jeopardy is the latest dismantling of a program lineup that has lasted almost 30 years…starting with Oprah ending her show, the Ohio Lottery jumping ship to WKYC and now booting Wheel and Jeopardy to WOIO….what’s left?

    Teri Green says:

    May 23, 2012 at 11:48 am

    It makes good sense. Ratings don’t matter, profit does. Try telling your stockholders your #1 but lost 10 million dollars verus telling your stockholders you’re #6 but made 10 million. Which do you think they’ll prefer? It’s simple logic, if you have a number one show that costs you say, $10,000 an episode and you can only sell $7,000 worth of ad time, you’re losing $3,000. If you have a show that is costing you $1,000 but only makes $4,000 you MAKE $3,000. Ratings are secondary to profit

April Lee says:

May 23, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Of course profit matters. But wonder where you draw the line when deciding to go from a 30% margin on a $5M per year business to a 60% margin on a $1M per year business? Easy to sacrifice tonnage to get to better profitability. Hard to reclaim that tonnage ever again.