Saturday, June 23, 2018

America says these are the ratings

It's been a while since GSN ran an original show, so I was interested in how the Nielsen Company would react.

So far the numbers I've seen for America Says have been respectable for an afternoon show on our little game show network. The show is not a hit even by GSN's fairly modest standards, but it's far from a Taskmaster-style flop.

ShowBuzzDaily has posted numbers for three of the eps so far. The Sunday sneak peek got 323K viewers and a 0.04 18-49 rating. The numbers for Monday were 294K and 0.06. For Thursday the numbers were 345K and 0.05.

GSN's geriatric demos mean that these 18-49 ratings are pretty decent. The viewer numbers are also okay on a network that usually gets 260K-300K for total day. No doubt the new show benefits from being hammocked by GSN's best performer, Family Feud.

If the show can keep up anything like these numbers, my guess is that it will win a renewal. GSN doesn't turn up its nose at a 300K-350K performer, especially in the afternoon. But we'll see how the number crunchers judge the show in future weeks. I think the format and host are just fine, but there are lots of people on the game show Interwebs who will tell you that I'm full of...stuff.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Reboot this

Every other game show is getting a reboot, so why not Remote Control?

That's what TV critic Joel Keller wonders on a pop culture site. He wants to see the comic celebration of tacky television return on MTV. I can think of worse ideas for the former music video outlet. In fact, a Remote Control reboot, if done half as well as the original, would easily be the best thing on the current well-past-its-prime MTV.

Keller reviews many of the glories of the original Remote Control, like the snack breaks, micro-sketches, and eventually famous cast members. He's not sure if MTV should aim a reboot at their usual teens and college kids, or pitch it at "middle-aged Gen-Xers" like himself. My guess is that both demos wouldn't mind a new look at the old classic. MTV's sister channels MTV2 and VH1 have rebooted Hollywood Squares pretty decently, after all.

We're probably going to hear plenty more ideas for game show rewinds. Why not another try at Russian Roulette? Mark Walberg probably has plenty of time between Antiques Roadshow tapings.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Sad crime story

Variety has posted one of the stranger and sadder crime stories I've seen lately.

Actress Rose Marie died last December at age 94. She was best known for the Dick Van Dyke show and was a stalwart on Hollywood Squares and many other game shows. Somebody took advantage of the publicity about her death to hack into her bank accounts and steal $11,300 from her estate. There was an attempt to steal $29,800 more but that effort was blocked.

Police are investigating the depressing case. At first there was some trouble getting the inquiry started because the amount stolen was fairly small. Detective Luis Bravo of the LAPD will only say that the investigation is "ongoing, and no suspect has been identified."

Stealing from the dead seems so tacky that only the government would try it with estate taxes. I hope they catch whoever did it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

A zillion imitators

HQ has already spawned a bunch of imitation live game show apps.

Now Facebook is giving us all a chance to get into the imitation game. The social media behemoth is launching a game show platform. Or, to be more specific, a new set of interactive live and on-demand video features that let creators add quizzes, polls, challenges and gamification so players can be eliminated from a game for a wrong answer.

"Gamification" sounds like a disease. Facebook doesn't expect to make money off the platform, at least not at first. Later they may try to cash in on the project by taking a cut of whatever revenue the would-be gamesters generate.

In a funny moment, a Facebook veep wouldn't even mention HQ's name when he was talking about the obvious knockoff platform. At last he relented and said: "I think they're [HQ] part of a much broader trend." There's a trend all right...toward more and more HQ imitators.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Ratings: syndies have a perfectly bad week

Let's just say it was five out of five for syndie game shows in the week of June 4-10. Every show fell in the ratings as summer and reruns took their toll. TV News Check has the dismal household ratings...

Family Feud 6.1 - down a tick, and get used to more bad news
Jeopardy 5.5 - down a tick
Wheel of Fortune 5.4 - down a couple ticks
Millionaire 1.5 - down a tick to a season low, just to rub it in
Funny You Should Ask 0.4 - down a tick to the low end of its up-and-down range

GSN got so-so numbers for the Cover Story ep on The Price is Right and the America Says sneak peek. 368K viewers for the TPiR show and 323K for America Says. Not terrible but not great. Overall GSN racked up another good week for June 11-17. 432K/282K viewers prime time/total day. The network ranked 31st and 30th in the windows.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Speeding up Feud

Once upon a time Bob Stewart took Password, made everything the lightning round, and called it Pyramid. Now GSN has taken Family Feud, made everything the fast money round, and called it America Says.

That's pretty much the idea of the new GSN original hosted by John Michael Higgins. I just watched the debut and enjoyed the sped-up Feud format a lot. In fact, I wonder why nobody ever thought of it before. Well, Bob Stewart is sadly no longer with us.

Two teams of four compete in the front game. They each get two rounds of fill-in-the-blank on survey questions. They try to guess the seven top answers in thirty seconds, and the show helpfully spots them the first letter of each answer (see screenshot). America Says retains the steal feature from Feud, by giving the other team a chance to fill in any blanks left after the thirty seconds are up.

Whichever team piles up the most points - I'm not going through the scoring system because I've got better things to do - wins a thousand bucks (GSN budget, folks) and goes to the bonus round. Then they get sixty seconds to answer four survey questions of increasing difficulty for fifteen grand. In the debut ep the team just missed the big payoff, much to the relief of GSN's beancounters.

I really like the format, just as I really like how Pyramid sped up Password. Higgins isn't the most forceful host, but he's friendly and competent and tosses in a quip or three when the inevitable goofy answers turn up. I think GSN has a winner here. We'll see if the Nielsen Company agrees.

One funny note: a poster on Game Show Forum dumps on Higgins for being, gasp, an actor. This poster hasn't even seen the show. He's only seen a promo. Honest.

Sorry to point out the obvious once again, but the oldies boards HATE GSN. Asking them for a fair-minded review of a GSN original is like asking Dillinger for a fair-minded review of the banking system.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Even more theorizing

A while back I hatched a conspiracy theory about a grand swap between Sony and Fremantle.

Sony would lease recent seasons of Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy to Fremantle-owned Buzzr, and Fremantle would lease recent seasons of The Price is Right and Let's Make a Deal to Sony-owned GSN. (The theory was hatched when the new chief at Buzzr whispered that the oldies diginet would acquire a pair of "name brand" non-Fremantle shows.)

Large disclaimer: this is only a theory. I have no inside (or outside) information about such a deal. But I gotta admit, after watching the super-sanitized GSN Cover Story documentary about The Price is Right, I'm starting to believe. One thing's for sure: GSN has either already leased some Drew Carey TPiR eps, or they really, really want to lease some Drew Carey TPIR eps.

The documentary was basically a love letter to Drew and his show. Not that GSN's documentary was terrible. There was plenty of interesting stuff about TPiR production, like a tour of the prize warehouse and lots of footage of the stage crew working behind (and sometimes in front of) the scenes.

But the not-so-clean side of The Price is Right? The endless lawsuits, the messy succession from Bob Barker to Drew Carey, even the perfect bid rumpus? Forget about it. Not a word was breathed about such unseemliness. In fact, Bob Barker hardly appeared on the documentary at all, except for very occasional glimpses.

Most people who read this blog know the story about GSN losing their lease of The Price is Right almost twenty years ago. This documentary tells me that the lease is back, or GSN is desperately trying to get it back. Stay tuned.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

More sexual allegations

This blog is usually fun and games. In fact, I had to remind one commenter of the obvious humorous intent of a recent post.

But sooner or later in this highly charged era of sexual allegations, I figured a game show host or three would get accused of sexual misconduct. Well, it's happened in the last few days to two hosts: Beat Shazam's Jamie Foxx and The Wall's Chris Hardwick.

In a perfect world both men would be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Such a perfect world exists only in a perfectly imaginary place. Anyway, the charge against Foxx appears, let's gently say, rather suspicious. The incident - a slap by Foxx with his penis - supposedly occurred in Vegas in 2002. Except the woman involved took no action at all until a few days ago when she filed a complaint with the police. Even if the charge is true, the statute of limitations has long since run out.

Foxx denies the charge strongly, and even the pop culture media seems inclined to accept his denial. Unless some supporting evidence surfaces soon, this allegation may well fade even in today's world.

The charges against Chris Hardwick seem more durable, if only because they pertain to much more recent times. A former girlfriend accuses him of an abusive relationship. Some of the charges sound not so harsh, but there are much more serious allegations of sexual assault. Hardwick denies the more serious charges and has made a few allegations of his own. We'll see what evidence emerges on either side.

Friday, June 15, 2018

GSN president chat

Cablefax posed a few questions to Mark Feldman, president and CEO of GSN. He's been on the job for about a year.

As anybody who watches the network knows, GSN has gone all traditional all the time for a long while now. Feldman says that we can expect more of the same. Honestly, our core linear business does remain our primary driver, so what we're focused on is deepening our level of engagement with our core viewers, reaching out to bring in more like them.

In other words, GSN doesn't appear interested in chasing younger demos, at least on the cable TV network. Feldman makes some vague noises that sound like a live game show app may be coming soon. GSN's answer to HQ, you might say. There were a few comments about this possibility during the network's upfront earlier this year. Nothing has surfaced yet.

Otherwise, it sounds like more of the same at GSN. Traditional game shows and more traditional game shows. This won't buy the network any love on the oldies boards, of course. They hate GSN for showing stuff with less than three decades of dust on it. But it should be enough to keep the "core viewers" - the game show audience in the real world - coming back, and they've made GSN a top 30 network. As Mark Feldman proudly observes.

UPDATE: GSN has sent out the pdf schedule for July 2-8. As promised on the network's Facebook page, The Chase returns on weekday afternoons, replacing Millionaire. Chris Harrison and friends still get eight runs on the weekends.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Reader's Digest lives!

A few posts ago I marveled that TV Guide is still around. Got another surprise today. Reader's Digest is still kicking.

The elderly magazine from the Harding administration even has a web site, like all the cool kids. One story pastes together a bunch of dumb/funny game show answers. You've probably heard of many of them, like the month when a pregnant woman starts to show. (September, for those who may have forgotten.)

It's sort of a digest of game show history, which may be appropriate for the publication. Sadly, they don't look much beyond Family Feud and Jeopardy for the bloopers. Hey, there have been other game shows over the last seven decades.

But the continued existence of Reader's Digest is the biggest revelation for me. You just can't kill off some things, even if they're older than this ancient game show blogger. And that's old.