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.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Slime time

To stoke the fires of millennial nostalgia, Nick has released some photos of the rebooted Double Dare's set.

The new version will debut June 25, but for those who can't wait, Bustle has a long story with the set photos and plenty of gush about "icky physical trials" and other Double Dare staples. The Bustle gush - that sounds as yucky as green slime - even extends to the host, described as "famed YouTuber Liza Koshy." Isn't "famed YouTuber" a contradiction in terms?

Somehow the Bustle story omits Marc Summers entirely, which I didn't think was possible for any article about Double Dare. Marc will be around the reboot, though, as a "color commentator." I think that means "friendly old guy who used to do the show and we gotta have him for you millennials."

I'm sounding rather cynical about the new version, ain't I? I'll try to be more objective in my review come June 25.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Ratings: blah week for syndies

TV News Check opines that syndicated shows fell into a "post-sweep depression." That may or may not explain it, but syndie game shows have seen better weeks. Still, there was one lonely gainer. The household ratings for the week of May 28-June 3 with the changes from the previous week...

Family Feud 6.2 - down a tick
Wheel of Fortune 5.6 - down a tick but manages a tie with the soulmate
Jeopardy 5.6 - down a couple ticks
Millionaire 1.6 - flat, it hardly ever budges lately
Funny You Should Ask 0.5 - up a tick as it bounces back and forth between 0.4 and 0.5

More of the same for GSN in the week of June 4-10. 411K/276K viewers prime time/total day. The network ranked 34th and 29th in the windows. GSN drew 108K/62K viewers in the 25-54 demo. Not much different from previous weeks but down a bit from a hot April. Cover Story returned with modest but not disastrous numbers. 324K viewers and a 0.06 18-49 rating. My guess is that the upcoming ep on The Price is Right will do better.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Smile away

ABC's game show reboots kicked off their new summer season last night, and Kanye West is getting lots of love on the Interwebs for his smiling appearance on Celebrity Family Feud. Smile and the whole world smiles with you, right? Some people on Twitter were impressed, anyway. Kanye West has the cutest smile was a typical tweet.

Steve Harvey and friends had plenty to grin about from the Nielsen company, too. The Feud ep drew 7.6M viewers and a 1.8 18-49 rating. The demo number was the best of the night for any broadcast show. ABC execs have probably decided on another season for CFF already.

The follow-up shows, 100K Pyramid and To Tell the Truth, also performed respectably, though not quite at the same levels. ABC seems to have more or less lucked into a solid summer night with the retro game shows. Our little genre can still hold its own on the broadcast dinosaurs, er, networks after all these decades. At least in the summer time.

SORT OF RELATED UPDATE: As you all know, not everybody is so enamored with Harvey Feud, despite the good ratings. On the GSN Facebook page a commenter named Sharon has been spamming every entry with a diss on Steve and a plea for The Chase to return. In reply GSN says The Chase will be back in July. I assume it's just the same old reruns. By the way, another commenter named Robert points out the good numbers GSN gets with Harvey Feud. Such a reality check is rare on the game show Interwebs.

Sunday, June 10, 2018


With not much to write about on a slow news weekend, I'll do some inside baseball stuff.

This site is really three blogs in one. There are the main entries, the faux tweets, and the videos from our little genre. I get the embedded videos from YouTube, where game shows have different levels of commitment. For instance, the CBS pair, The Price is Right and Let's Make a Deal, pile up lots of videos on their YouTube sites. I always find plenty of new clips to choose from.

Family Feud is another show with a stuffed video channel on YouTube. On the sad other hand, Wheel of Fortune doesn't post much on the site. They put most of their clips on Facebook.

ABC's game show reboots vary. 100K Pyramid posts a fair number of YouTube videos, but To Tell the Truth is pretty stingy with them. TBS insists on festooning all their Joker's Wild videos with cannabis leaves. I wonder why.