Saturday, October 22, 2016


Lazy again, plus it's the weekend. So I'll just repost some more stuff from Game Show Paradise. It's okay if you copy yourself, right? Anyway, a comment on our little game show networks...

I once referred to the "nuclear option" for GSN, if Buzzr ever showed signs of becoming a serious competitor. That option would be acquiring recent eps of Wheel of Fortune, something that Fremantle-owned Buzzr can never duplicate.

Well, GSN has gone and acquired the 2013-14 season of WoF. Does this mean they're going nuclear on their budding competitor in diginet land? I dunno, it probably just means that GSN's total day averages have been heading south lately, which is certainly true.

What would be a similar nuclear option for Buzzr to make itself into a real competitor for GSN? My guess is Bob Barker eps of The Price is Right. I have no idea if Barker TPiR is ever coming to Buzzr, but it would make the same kind of splash that Johnny Carson's Tonight Show made for fellow diginet Antenna.

A recent interview with Fremantle exec Jennifer Mullin revealed that Buzzr is currently available in 33 million households. They want to get that number up to 50 or 55 million. Barker TPiR is the kind of major property that might get them there. We'll see.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Other people playing games

Happened by Game Show Forum for the first time in a while. They weren't bashing me for a change! I felt slighted, much like Richard Dawson when Match Game hauled out the star wheel.

One thing they were bashing was the game show version of Candy Crush, recently announced by CBS. That's hardly unexpected. It's a new game show, after all, and new is a dirty word on GSF. Check their list of 50 oldies, er, greatest if you don't believe me.

One of the odder complaints came from the sensible Matt Ottinger, the guy who used to run the board when it was known as his. (Apologies for the bad sentence construction.) It's Magnificent Marble Machine or Starcade all over again. The idea that we would be entertained simply watching someone else play a game.

I agree that the show sounds like a physical stunt game, based on the sparse information available right now. Which does limit its play-along value, and that's what Matt is driving at. But you could say the same about Beat the Clock, recently enshrined in the GSF list of 50 oldies, er, greatest. Hey, they put Press Your Luck at number nine on the list, and that exercise in random button-pushing was solely about watching other people, well, push a button at random.

Play-along value no doubt helps. But it's not necessarily the be-all and end-all. Otherwise, no stunt game show would last beyond the first stunt. We'll see if this Candy Crush effort can keep us interested in other people's games.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Real estate porn

I'm always hunting in Google News for game show stuff. Some of the stranger items I run across are real estate sales by people in the industry.

These stories are a kind of web Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, with pretty pictures of the elaborate digs that the better paid folks in the genre can afford. A typical example is this breathless article about an LA condo that Burt Sugarman is selling.

For those who don't know, Sugarman produced some game shows in the '70s, most notably Celebrity Sweepstakes and The Wizard of Odds (one of Alex Trebek's more short-lived efforts). He also became part owner of Barris Industries - Chuck must have loved that name - and had a hand in the '80s revival of Newlywed Game.

The condo that Sugarman is peddling offers a nice view of downtown LA, not to mention "wide-plank oak floors and a wall of flat-screen televisions in the media room/den." Those planks better be pretty wide, because Burt wants $8.8 million for the humble abode. That would produce a good profit on the condo, which he and wife Mary Hart bought for $3.8 million three years ago.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Amy's adventures

I've been typing a lot lately. Four entries in two days plus the usual faux tweets and video blurbs. So I'll get lazy today and just repost some stuff from Game Show Paradise. It's about a GSN exec and a GSN show... 

Other poster: Is it too late for GSN to undo the stuff that [programming EVP] Amy Davis has done to it?

Amy's had some bad luck lately but she's also presided over the best ratings that the network has ever gotten. So she's pretty safe for now. But a few new hits wouldn't hurt. GSN hasn't had a new hit show for a while.

Other poster: Out of curiosity, do we know yet what numbers Scare Tactics got in its first week?

Scare Tactics total viewers (18-49 viewers). All numbers courtesy Douglas Pucci...

October 7
10:00 PM 209K (79K)
10:30 PM 209K (78K)

October 9
9:00 PM 148K (51K)
9:30 PM 101K (42K)
10:00 PM 90K (38K)
10:30 PM 77K (35K)

October 14
10:00 PM 182K (69K)
10:30 PM 188K (89K)

Bad numbers all around. Repeats of the show have already been cut back on the schedule, and it will almost certainly be gone completely after this month.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Ratings: syndies go blah

The week of October 3-9 was a forgettable one for syndie game shows. None of the shows gained and the big three lost a little. Still, the damage was hardly severe. TV News Check has the household ratings...

Family Feud 6.3 - down a couple ticks, maybe they should add still more daily runs
Wheel of Fortune 6.0 - down three ticks, and welcome to GSN on October 24
Jeopardy 5.7 - down a couple ticks
Millionaire 1.6 - flat
Celebrity Name Game 1.3 - flat, why do they even bother publishing the same number every week?

I've ranted about GSN's weird ratings decisions for a while now. But does anybody think Window Whatever - not even a game show, by the way - will perform well for the network? Even the promos look dorky.

Meanwhile, GSN rose a little from last week's really bad numbers. But the ratings and rankings still look pale compared to earlier this year. 356K/256K/359K viewers prime time/total day/extended prime time for October 10-16. GSN ranked 43rd, 37th and 44th in the windows. Pat and Vanna, you can't get here too soon.


TV execs can do at least one thing well: imitate.

Having watched ABC score with summer game shows, CBS has decided to try their hand with a new project in our little genre. The eye network (love ya, Variety) has ordered a game show based on the Candy Crush mobile app. The linked story from Hollywood Reporter is short on details, except that teams of contestants will "use their wits and physical agility to compete on enormous interactive game boards."

Maybe they could compete on that enormous game board left over from Monopoly Millionaires Club. Oops, wrong game. The story says that 18 billion game rounds of Candy Crush are played monthly around the world. Sort of like McDonald's: billions and billions served.

There are no details on a host, a debut date, or even the number of eps. But a CBS exec did say that "he was interested in exploring more of the game show arena following ABC's summer success with retro game shows like Match Game and Celebrity Family Feud."

That success ran out of steam toward the end of the summer, but it's always nice to see new entrants in the genre. Crush on.

Monday, October 17, 2016

A brief numbers note

The numbers for Hellevator stay godawful. 177K total viewers and a 0.04 18-49 rating. My snarky comments from Game Show Network News...

Hellevator is a disaster. It's not even getting demos and it makes Winsanity look like a runaway hit in total viewers. I wonder if GSN will just pull this stuff out of prime time and run it at midnight for the last two weeks. Don't even want to think about the repeat numbers, which must be a complete scratch on Nielsen's sample.

[After seeing the new pdf schedule...] GSN yanks Winsanity from prime time while leaving Friday Night Farts in prime time? Yeah, that makes sense. Is anybody at this network awake?

SLIGHTLY RELATED GSN UPDATE: The network will run some Halloween week eps from 2013-14 Wheel of Fortune on October 27 and 28. I assume we'll see the rest of Halloween week on October 31. As I commented sourly at Game Show Network News, I bet these eps get more viewers than Hellevator. But then just about anything would get more viewers than Hellevator.

Burning question

As a faux tweet noted, ABC is more or less rebooting 5th Grader and calling it Five to Survive. Five presumably smart kids will help a presumably bumbling adult up a money tree.

By the way, a number of pundits have called the new show a cross between 5th Grader and Millionaire. Guys, the cross was already embedded in the 5th Grader format itself, which borrowed the money tree from Millionaire in the first place.

The other favorite pundit game is guessing who Ricky's co-host will be. Everybody assumes there will be a co-host actually asking the questions while Ricky works with the kids (and tries to avoid too much potty mouth). This listicle runs through possibilities like Louis CK and other, more Brit-centric performers.

All the possible choices in the article are male, which is unlikely in my view. ABC has used men to host all their recent game shows, and the diversity police are probably getting antsy. Look for a woman co-host. Somebody like Iliza Shlesinger, maybe. She's got experience hosting a game show and can provide a little youthful eye candy to balance Gervais. As for when the show will turn up on the alphabet net (Variety speak!) I don't have a clue.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The password is literally phony

Rummaging around the game show Interwebs, I came across a note on the Reddit game show board about con artist and Super Password contestant Kerry Ketchem.

The linked video of the CNN report about Ketchem's time on Super Password is not just interesting for the con man's saga. It also provides a glimpse of CNN in its pre-Gulf War infancy. Ketchem called himself "Patrick Quinn" on the show and invented a story about working for the CIA. (Hello, fellow operator Chuck Barris.)

A viewer recognized Ketchem and the cops picked him up when he tried to collect his winnings. This LA Times story says he got five years for an insurance scam. The story misspells his name "Ketchum," but who knows the truth about con artists?

No matter how you spell his last name, the intelligent University of Maryland grad Kerry was a genuinely good Password contestant. He came along too late to add game show rigging to his résumé of scams and trickery. He won almost sixty grand on the show but the producers refused to pay. Ketchem filed a lawsuit, which was dismissed.

Super Password lives on in Buzzr reruns, though the show has been exiled to a few odd time slots here and there. Maybe Kerry will turn up on the diginet one of these days.

As for his con artistry, Ketchem never did learn. He's currently a guest of the state of Indiana, after copping a plea in yet another theft scam. He sweet talked some of his fellow workers out of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of auto parts. The appeals court noted "his prior seven convictions...theft of government property and breaking and entering into FBI headquarters, fraud, mail fraud, bank fraud and embezzlement, possession of a forged instrument, forgery, and conversion." It's an impressive list. As one of his own lawyers once said: "Let's face it, Kerry's a rascal."

Kerry's now in a work release facility in Evansville, IN. His earliest possible release date is January 24, 2017. You could make an interesting TV movie about his life.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The week that was

Yahoo has been in the news lately for its slow-motion sale to Verizon.

Business pundits seem entranced by this on-again, off-again deal. They just can't resist the saga of Yahoo, an Internet 1.0 giant brought low by the forces of online change and offline mismanagement. I'm not all that worried about Yahoo one way or the other, but I do like their "Week in Game Shows" feature.

I've blogged before about this video mashup of weekly highlights from our little genre. This week leads with a sweet announcement on Family Feud. A couple reveals to their other family members that they're expecting their first child. Which made me try to remember how my wife and I told people that our first kid was on the way. I think we just made phone calls. A lot more prosaic than a Feud appearance.

Yahoo then gets yucky by piling on Alex Trebek for his harmless dig at nerdcore hip-hop. Can't anybody take a joke any more? The nerdy contestant even leads into Alex's teasing comment by confessing that she and her fellow enthusiasts have trouble on the dating scene.

Then there's the 45,237,819th overamped contestant on The Price is Right. This show has an endless supply of shiny merchandise and rabid players. Yahoo wraps up with a puzzle from Wheel of Fortune, as usual. The entire video runs little more than a minute, which is nice and quick.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Is this show possible?

Imagine Wipeout on a budget of $6.95. You're imagining Almost Impossible Game Show, which debuted last night on MTV. I caught up with the first episode on the network's web site.

The only redeeming social value in a stunt show like this is the litany of fails, punctuated by snarky commentary from non-empathetic hosts. Almost Impossible had plenty of fail and snark, as six not particularly well-coordinated contestants stumbled and bumbled and crashed and bashed and whammed and bammed their way through stunts with names like Rump Pump and Slippy Hill.

Eventually all the contestants but one ran through their allotment of forty fails. The last man literally standing got five hundred bucks and a trophy which fell out of a Cracker Jack box. A couple of Irish guys called the Rubberbandits (real names Dave Chambers and Bob McGlynn) chortled and criticized as the contestants flailed away at the occasionally painful and always cheap stunts. The rubber guys never showed up on camera, and you can see why from the photo in their Wikipedia article. Faces made for radio.

I don't know if the contestants' cuss words got bleeped on TV, but the web site left the swearing in. One stumblebum named Millicent might have set a record for f-word use in a half-hour show. She bombed out in a f---ing hurry.

UPDATE: The show landed on its rump in the ratings. 262K viewers and a 0.12 18-49 rating. Fail!

Thursday, October 13, 2016


A little lazy today, so I'll just repost some of my comments at Game Show Network News about GSN's latest ratings mishaps. I know I'm getting to be a bore about this, but it's a good subject to be a bore about. The topic is "Friday Night Frights" - Hellevator and Scare Tactics - and their less than boffo Nielsen numbers...

GSN execs are tired of hearing that their median viewer age is 139 (slight exaggeration). That's why stuff like Hellevator keeps showing up on the network despite modest or downright bad total viewer numbers. Such shows still skew relatively young by GSN standards. A 0.05 18-49 rating looks and is pretty bad. But for GSN it's not absolutely terrible.

Still, I have to wonder if the demo chase is paying off much for the network. Anybody who watches GSN at all sees a parade of ads for diabetes drugs and AARP Medicare supplements. So it's not like GSN has become a babe magnet for advertisers seeking younger demos.

Why not just get as many viewers as you can? The demo chase doesn't seem to be working out very well, unless you have naked girls in the show. And even Skin Wars doesn't get huge total viewer numbers.

Top 30 [on the TV Newser cable network ratings chart] is a distant memory. In the latest week (October 3-9) GSN tumbled to 44th, 40th and 46th in prime time, total day and extended prime time. The network is already hacking away some repeats of Hellevator and Scare Tactics that are obviously killing the total day average.

My guess is that both shows will be only an unpleasant memory for GSN after this month.

ADDITION: Just got GSN's new schedule for the October 24-30 week. One show that should become a pleasant memory for GSN is Wheel of Fortune. The 2013-14 season, the most recent ever for the network, will run at 11:00 AM weekdays. Sure, it's in the death slot opposite you know what on CBS. But GSN can use all the total day help it can get.

Other weird things happen on Friday morning (October 28). Richard Dawson's Family Feud returns, and so does Whammy and Match Game '90. Looks like a Halloween stunt.