Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Ratings: syndies stumble again

Syndicated shows of all sorts suffered in the week of April 15-21 from big news stories. All those preemptions took a toll. Game shows (with one small exception) felt the pain along with their fellow syndies. TVNewsCheck brings the depressing numbers...

Wheel of Fortune 6.4 - down three ticks
Jeopardy 5.7 - down three ticks to match the soulmate
Family Feud 4.3 - down a couple ticks as Steve finds some adversity
Millionaire 2.1 - down three ticks as Meredith nears the end
Baggage 1.1 - who says there's no good news, Jerry's up a tenth of a point!

Meredith slid right out of the syndie list at TV by the Numbers. The viewership averages: Wheel of Fortune 10.0 million (weekend repeat 4.8 million), Jeopardy 8.6 million, Family Feud 6.4 million. The numbers are visibly weaker but still hardly horrible compared to much of broadcast TV, at least in total viewers.

Oh Sit is getting some less than thrilling numbers. The latest first-run (April 29) pulled 730K total viewers with a 0.3 18-49 rating.

TVNewser says that GSN enjoyed a very good month of April by the network's historical standards: 388K/268K viewers prime time/total day. The network ranked 40th and 39th in the windows.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Expertise

So this e-mail lands in my inbox about the second season of The Experts. And I suddenly realize what a game show nerd I am. Because I know what The Experts is.

In fact, I once faux tweeted about it. The "show" is actually just a bunch of YouTube videos. The second season begins today with the 11th episode. Three experts on various (mostly pop-culture) subjects square off in an absurdly stripped-down quizzer. Today's new episode features experts on Glee, Breaking Bad and Resident Evil.

The money is picayune and the production values are nonexistent. The show makes a big deal of this, as if it's hip to be cheap. Well, maybe it is, I dunno. The host is Michael Shure, who works for Cenk Uygur on The Young Turks. If you don't know who or what I'm talking about, there's a reason. The Young Turks is on the recently bought (by robber barons from Arab oil-land), soon to be renamed, and virtually unwatched Current TV. Which is one of the best places on the planet to hide.

Anyway, The Experts is a sort of okay quizzer, but after a while - like five minutes - I get tired of the pretentious cheapness. All right, there's no money in the game. That's nice. But what if I don't care about Glee, Breaking Bad, or Resident Evil? (By the way, I don't.) Oh well, there are other episodes about other subjects.

Yes, I'm being too snotty. The Experts offers some plain, low-key charm. I'm just a sucker for quizzers, even if the subject-matter doesn't fascinate me.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A long time ago

Happened to watch Pat Sajak today in a December, 1981 episode of Password Plus on GSN.

Pat looked maybe fifteen years old. You almost expected to see pimples. But what I really noticed was a comment by host Tom Kennedy as the show wound down. He wished Sajak good luck on Wheel of Fortune. There really was a time when Pat Sajak was just starting out on that little version of hangman with the big wheel.

As you probably know, Kennedy's wish came true. But once upon a time, Sajak himself must have wondered if this Wheel gig would last. By the way, Sajak was a very good contestant on Password Plus, winning the bonus round on the episode I watched, among other contestant-ish feats. He got invited back years later on the Super Password revival. Hey, he can play and not just host!

His celeb opponent on the show was Betty White, making one of her 4,387,102 game show appearances. Sadly, her husband Allen Ludden, the show's original host, had died several months before this episode was taped.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

GSN numerology

The GSN board has set up a permanent floating crap game ratings thread. So I chip in some number-ish comments...

Via Futon Critic, the latest numbers for American Bible Challenge (April 25): 694K total viewers, 134K adults 18-49, 0.1 18-49 rating. Not very good by the show's standards but just fine by GSN's overall standards. We'll see if Harvey Feud tops it for the week's number one slot.

Futon Critic occasionally posts next-day numbers for GSN first-run originals. By the way, American Bible Challenge holds an odd distinction: it's the only GSN show to ever make TV by the Numbers' cable overnight top-100 list.

I'll be the usual nag on this subject: in the April 15-19 week Chain Reaction averaged a very healthy 342K viewers for the 3:00PM hour, not exactly a prime slot. Come on, GSN, there's a show that could use a revival. Your audience likes it!

One more ratings note: Scott Rahner slices and dices GSN's ratings every week at Game Show Network News. I think he overreacts a little to tiny week-to-week wobbles in the numbers, but his comments are always worth reading.

Gee, our old LaSalle ran great

A reference to All In The Family is certainly appropriate for this entry's title.

Over at what's left of what used to be Matt Ottinger's board, the posters discuss what was the best era for cable TV. It's a generalization of their usual commentary on what was the best era for GSN. Of course, all the posters agree that the present day is the very best for cable, compared to the useless trash from the past.

That's a joke, and a weak one. This board puts a photo of Bill Cullen in its title, so naturally the mid-1980s get the nod from most posters as the best era. The latest that anybody will venture is the early 2000s. Anything later than that might get you tossed off the board.

Nostalgia is a powerful force, even among folks who don't have much chronological reason to be nostalgic. (By far the funniest and most pointed exchange from the thread: "I would say cable television was at its best from 1980 to 1995." "How would you know? You weren't even born yet!") I wax nostalgic myself as my waistline expands and my energy shrinks.

But I try to be fair to the current day in our little genre. Some terrific game shows are running right now. And a lot of the shows from the past really were pretty bad. (See Game Show Garbage.) About the best I can do is disregard age when evaluating any game show.

Sure, technology moves inexorably forward, so some game show effects weren't even possible in the old days. But that's the only allowance I make in judging shows from different eras.

Friday, April 26, 2013

From Israel with pump

The last time an American network tried an Israeli game show format, it didn't work out so great. Who's Still Standing didn't stand for long on NBC, though the ratings really weren't that terrible by the network's usual standards.

But hope springs eternal, especially when you can put "money" in the title. CBS will pilot another Israeli format, The Money Pump. YouTube offers an interesting pitch tape for the show. The tape is in English, though the actual game footage is in Hebrew, of course. But there are English subtitles for us clueless Yanks.

The show gets its name from a contraption that sucks money away while the contestants dither over the answers. It's basically a money tree format with lifelines. Sound familiar? Kevin Frazier will host the American pilot. The Israeli host in the pitch tape is Lior Suchard, who makes most of his own (definitely non-pumped) money doing mentalist shows.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

They keep asking for it

For a show that's not even seen in most of the country, Let's Ask America gets a lot of notice on the Net.

Hollywood Junket reprints a nice long press release about today's special with TV weather folks. They can't resist tipping one of the survey questions: "What did people in Seattle say is harder to avoid? A – Coffee Shops, or B – Rainy Days?"

I'm a baseball fan, and most people in Seattle seem to avoid Safeco Park lately, due to the sad Mariners. Anyway, Let's Ask America has earned a second season and gets decent if not super numbers. There are some rumors about syndicating the show nationwide, beyond its current outposts on the Scripps stations.

The show is a friendly, rumpled survey-fest, and Kevin Pereira hosts in a friendly, rumpled way. At first intended as a cheap substitute for Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, Let's Ask America looks like it costs $4.95 per episode. Which is always nice in the 500-channel universe of smaller audiences.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Experimenting socially

The Peacock Net (Variety speak!) has gotten to the point where any idea looks pretty good. So NBC is trying "a game, a social experiment, and a live interactive event all wrapped into a uniquely sticky entertainment experience." As a faux tweet noted, the show is called The Million Second Quiz.

"Uniquely sticky entertainment" sounds kind of yucky. But I think they're talking about the audience sticking around 24/7 while the contestants battle through "intense bouts of trivia" for twelve days and nights. Those intensely competing contestants will live in a literally glass house (or some kind of hourglass-shaped structure) in Manhattan as the show unfolds. So passers-by can get a gawk at the poor souls.

One of the souls may end up pretty rich. The press release talks about prize money "up to $10 million." Somehow I doubt that anybody will win the full prize, but some cash will probably get doled out. The network hasn't set a debut date beyond a vague promise for "this fall."

It all sounds like Big Brother meets Jeopardy. Plus a heavy dose of social media on the Net.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Game shows all over the place

Seems like every cable channel and its brother are doing game shows. It's a cheap genre, which fits nicely into cable budgets. Low cost has always been a solid selling-point for game shows, right back to the ancient radio days. Some recent news about shows that will air or are in development...

Syfy will debut the third season of its in-the-dark stunt show Total Blackout on June 4. The blacked-out stuntfest has never been a huge hit. In fact, the numbers have sometimes taken alarming dives. But by and large the ratings have held up halfway decently. The network will follow the show with Exit, a non-automotive import from Japan which features contestants trying to escape from "puzzling" rooms. They don't have to escape in the dark, though.

E!, the network that gave us too much of Joan Rivers - any amount of Joan is too much - is developing a game show tentatively called Secrets & Lies. Hm, sounds like True Hollywood Story for game show fans. It's based on the "three truths and a lie" parlor game. The show is all about celeb trivia, of course, just like the network in general.

A kids channel named Sprout is, er, sprouting a game show called Ruff-Ruff, Tweet & Dave. I've honestly never heard of Sprout, but this show is an interactive quizzer for kids who can use "smart phones and tablets" and other gadgets. Multiple-choice questions abound.

Last but they hope not least, TBS will bring Trust Me, I'm a Game Show Host to our screens later this year. D.L. Hughley and Michael Ian Black will try to convince contestants of things that may or may not be true. It's sort of like the criminal court system, you might say.

Ratings: syndies head down

Syndicated game shows have done better than in the week of April 8-14. Sure, all TV ratings start slipping downward this time of year, but the trend was definitely in place for every one of the game shows. TVNewsCheck brings the sorrowful news...

Wheel of Fortune 6.8 - down a tick
Jeopardy 6.0 - down a couple ticks
Family Feud 4.5 - down three ticks, this is getting old in a hurry
Millionaire 2.4 - down a tick, got the idea?
Baggage 1.0 - down a tick, Jerry can always help with a pattern like this

At least the top four made the syndie list at TV by the Numbers. The viewership averages: Wheel of Fortune 10.4 million (weekend repeat 4.0 million), Jeopardy 9.1 million, Family Feud 6.7 million, Millionaire 3.3 million. The numbers are losing their sheen as springtime (however cold) goes on.

TVNewser has posted their weekly cable ranker. GSN continues to perform well, ranking 39th in prime time and total day with 375K/259K viewership averages.

Monday, April 22, 2013

A one-time kind of guy

Brendan DuBois is a mystery writer who's got a Wikipedia article and another claim to fame. He's a one-time winner on Jeopardy.

Most one-time winners just fade from view and pay the taxes on their winnings. But Brendan, being a writerly sort, wanted to use the material for a book. So he did, as the screenshot shows.

On JBoard.tv Brendan sounds self-deprecatingly humorous about his literary effort, which is now available in Kindle format on Amazon. Have to confess that I haven't read the book, but I'm almost willing to recommend it just for the "short happy life" in the title.

All the one-timers have now found a voice for their far-flung brother-and-sisterhood. After 29 seasons there must be untold hundreds of 'em. Good on Brendan for not letting the experience go to waste.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

And now for some garbage

Haven't checked Game Show Garbage for a while. But the trash collectors have been making inductions into the hall of shame as usual. The latest "honoree": The Reel to Reel Picture Show.

This was a short-lived 1998 dud on what was then the Pax network. (Now it's called Ion and it doesn't do game shows any more.) Adam Nedeff has posted a chunk of the show on YouTube, so you can sample it for yourself.

As is often the case with GSG's recent inductions, the show wasn't flat-out terrible. And truth to tell, the site doesn't trash the show unmercifully. They just say the project was dull and Peter Marshall looked unprepared. To be honest, I think Peter just looked aged, but GSG wants to be more polite. Anyway, the show was a simple quizzer about movies. Not awful, not great.

The production company went broke and lots of people who appeared on the show got stiffed. GSG makes a big deal about this because, once again, the show itself wasn't really that horrible. So GSG has to make a big deal about something.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Horse and carriage

On the GSN board I noted that the network will soon be available in 80 million households. This sparked a debate over GSN's carriage on cable sports tiers and other odd tiers...

GSN president David Goldhill said the network will soon pass the 80 million mark in household availability. This naturally tends to make all the viewer numbers look better. GSN isn't fully distributed on cable/satellite systems yet, but it's getting closer. When Rich Cronin took over in 2001, GSN was available in only about 35 million households. Despite endless kvetching from the game show Interwebs - and Lord knows I've done my share - GSN has grown and prospered after the near-death experience in 2000-01.

Other poster: Agreed. But it [GSN's carriage on sports tiers on some systems] really did happen because of the poker and blackjack shows.

I've seen the poker and blackjack shows blamed for a lot of things. But the reason the operators stick GSN on obscure or strange tiers is simple: the network gets modest overall ratings and very poor demos. Believe me, if GSN was averaging two million viewers regularly with big numbers in 18-49, it would be on the most accessible tier the operators could design.

It's the numbers, not poker or blackjack. If anything, poker helped GSN because it drew some younger demos, something that almost never happens on the network. Anyway, considering the demos, GSN should be very happy to get to the 80 million mark.

Another poster: It's [sports channels subscription fees] probably close to $10 or more per sub since sports are the highest cost programming there is.

And once again, the Nielsen Company is the reason. Sports bring in young male demos, notoriously hard to catch for just about any other kind of programming. That's why the operators will pay a premium (however grudgingly) for the sports channels. In particular, ESPN gets away with highway robbery.

Same poster: Truth be told, if you want to know who to blame its GSN. To get distributed they agreed to this placement.

GSN hasn't just meekly submitted to the operators. Like many other networks, they've had some battles over the years. Right now they're engaged in an endless dispute with Cablevision before the FCC.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Sports news

A blogger waxes nostalgic for Sports Challenge, the ancient 1970s quizzer with jocks of all sorts.

I vaguely remember this show but I can't get nearly as enthusiastic as my blogging confrere. It was an okay quizzer for sports fans, I guess. But for everybody else the show held almost no interest. That's always been the problem for sports-themed game shows. They're a small niche within a small niche.

Still, it's fun to look through the clips on YouTube and see some of the jocks in their younger days. Frank Gifford was a pretty handsome guy once upon a time. And it's really weird to see Dick Enberg minus forty years. Anybody who's watched Padres games lately (as I sometimes do on the Extra Innings package) knows that Dick currently looks like a very senior citizen of the sports universe.

Wish I could peel forty years off my aged self. But there aren't any YouTube clips of me in my sprightlier days.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

truFacts from truTV

Long long ago in a galaxy far far away, truTV was Court TV. That meant lots of boring trials which appealed to all ages from 86 to death.

Well, folks, nowadays truTV is going after "funseekers," who are young, hip and just waiting to be plucked by advertisers. I'm not making up the term. It's in the network's upfront press release.

But enough sarcastic comments from me. The network has greenlighted Panic Button, a sort of game show. Nervous contestants have to decide whether to venture further into a haunted house or to push, wouldn't you know, the panic button. I bet that's where they got the name of the show!

truTV has also ordered a pilot for Turbulence, a Howie Mandel game show played on an airplane. Maybe they'll show Rex Kramer shouting to the plane from the control tower. "Get that finger out of your ear. You don't know where that finger has been."

Finally, the network is developing Mind Games, a game show where the contestants have been hypnotized and don't know what they're doing. You can fill in your own punchline.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Win, lose, draw or Disney

Remember Win, Lose or Draw? Apparently Disney does.

The Mouse Net is bringing back the 1980s Burt Reynolds chestnut, only in a kids version. Justin Willman of Cupcake Wars will host. Two civvie kids will compete on each team with a Disney celeb. Rather ominously, the show will use lots of technoid gadgets: "motion control, interactive multi-touch screen displays and graphic technology."

The original wasn't the greatest game show I ever saw, but it was reasonably entertaining. Dom DeLuise was insufferable as usual, but not all of the celebs were so off-putting. The show endured for three years of so-so ratings and reviews.

Disney once tried Teen Win, Lose or Draw from 1989 to 1992. But this new kids version means a return to our little genre for the network, which had avoided game shows for more than a decade. Welcome back, Mickey.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Ratings: good week for Alex

The week of April 1-7 wasn't much of an event for syndicated game shows. There was a little movement up and down but no big shifts. Alex had something to be happy about, though. TVNewsCheck posts the household ratings...

Wheel of Fortune 6.9 - down three ticks
Jeopardy 6.2 - up three ticks, just the opposite of the soulmate
Family Feud 4.8 - flat
Millionaire 2.5 - up a tick in a bit of good parting news for Meredith
Baggage 1.1 - flat for perennial last-place Jerry

The top four all made the TV by the Numbers syndie list. The viewership averages: Wheel of Fortune 10.6 million, Jeopardy 9.5 million, Family Feud 7.1 million, Millionaire 3.4 million. Not a bad number at all for Mr. Trebek.

Oh Sit returned last night, April 15, with so-so numbers for the CW. 940K total viewers and a 0.4 18-49 rating. That's not horrible by CW standards but it ain't great, either.

TVNewser says that GSN enjoyed another solid week for April 8-14: 398K/267K viewership averages prime time/total day. The network ranked 40th and 39th in the windows. Douglas Pucci's numbers show that Steve Harvey's Family Feud dominated as usual.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Looking for a bump

The guys at Game Show Newsnet chat about Cedric Kyles (sorry, I refuse to use that goofy stage name) as the new Millionaire host. General drift: he'll give the ratings a bump but it probably won't last.

I tend to agree. The show is not Family Feud, no matter how much the producers are looking for a Harvey-ish rebound in the numbers. Millionaire remains a challenging quizzer, and Cedric looks all wrong for the format. His fans may give the show a look, but I can't see them hanging around.

Lots of game show fans on the Interwebs complain about comics getting too many host gigs. It's become a cliché complaint, in fact, like whining about sets that are too dark or contestants who are too coached. But this may be one time when the complaint is justified. It will be really hard for Cedric to yuk it up on a quizzer.

His one try at game shows, It's Worth What, was not encouraging. He tried humor but it usually fell flat. Don't want to prejudge, but I don't have a good vibe on this pick.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Hoity-toity

I have something of a love-hate relationship with the classic What's My Line.

On one hand, I like the elegant simplicity of the gameplay and the urbane wit of the panelists and host. On the famous other hand, all that elegance and urbanity can get on my nerves. That's why I'm more of a fan of Goodson-Todman's down and dirtier panel show, I've Got a Secret.

WML's pluses and minuses are evident in this segment with poet and historian Carl Sandburg. His appearance is handled with perfect taste, and everybody on the show is properly respectful. Arlene and Dorothy even stand for the usual handshakes at the end of the segment.

Mr. Sandburg doesn't act too high and mighty, and he uses a funny falsetto voice for his answers. But the segment still seems stilted and lifeless. Everybody looks scared to death of breathing an inappropriate word in the presence of greatness. On IGAS they might have had the poor guy sit in a dunking booth or something similar (okay, slight exaggeration).

Just to give the other point of view its due, I'll link to the WML episode guide's account of the September, 1960 program. They're a lot more enthusiastic.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Baby talk

Just watched Bet On Your Baby, and there's a problem. The natural temptation with a show like this is to be a smart-aleck and say something like, I want to frow up. After all, a heaping dose of cynicism is required of TV critics, because so much of TV is cynical exploitation of our worst instincts.

Well, I didn't frow up, even if the show did everything to make the toddlers - not really babies - as winsomely attractive as possible to audiences (and advertisers). It's just a cute little stunt show, where one parent bets on how well the other parent will coax their toddler to do some stupid human trick, like spinning around seven times. Yes, it's brainless and over-sugared. But it's not gut-wrenchingly awful.

The show's host Melissa Peterman keeps things sweet, which is her job, after all. She gets along well with the kids, or at least the footage is edited to make it look like she gets along well with them. The parents coo and cheer for their toddlers, as parents should. No, the show isn't Jeopardy. It's not even Minute To Win It. But it's harmless frivolity.

UPDATE: The show got mediocre ratings at best for its premiere: 2.3 million viewers and a 0.6 18-49 rating. Pretty weak even for Saturday night.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Death of a funny man

Sad news: Jonathan Winters dies at age 87. A brilliant improviser, Winters could never quite buckle down to the demands of a regular TV show. But he could drop in for a guest spot and make 'em laugh better than just about anybody.

In our little genre Winters is probably best known for his guest appearances on Hollywood Squares. He also turned up way back in the black and white days on What's My Line and I've Got a Secret. For the same reasons that he could never succeed as host of his own variety show, Winters wasn't well suited to a regular role on game shows. The rules were just too confining for his absurdist fantasies.

Winters has most directly influenced Robin Williams, though Williams has often shown an irritating preachiness that Jonathan blissfully lacked. Winters wasn't interested in making points. He just wanted to make people laugh at the craziness of human existence. He very, very often succeeded. R.I.P.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Dumping on Steve

Happened across a thread on the Sitcoms Online game show board about the worst hosts ever. This is an open invitation to major hating, and the posters don't disappoint.

They drub lots of the usual suspects from the game show Interwebs. I agree with some, would quibble with others. But the guy who attracts the literally largest type is the Family Feud incumbent, Steve Harvey:
Steve IS NOT FUNNY on Family Fued [sic] because he is totally, completely and immorally out of place on this show....Here, he is just a homie jester trying to be funny with jokes a majority of his audience has NO CHANCE of finding amusing...He is best appreciated by inner-city urban residents that get his inside "hood jokes" and blatant, hard to figure out "ghetto slang."
The poster puts this blast in what looks like 16-point purple type, just to make sure nobody misses the rant. The huffing and puffing even produces a misspelling of "feud."

I'm not the biggest Harvey fan, but this anti-ghetto whine seems way wide of the mark. Anybody who can't understand what Steve Harvey is saying on Feud can't understand English. He's hardly doing shuck and jive that's incomprehensible to the non-ghettoized.

Not that Steve cares about a few rants on the web. The Nielsen Company speaks much louder, and they've been giving Steve a lot of love.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The man, the legend, the car

Some blog entries have no excuse. This is one of 'em. Dick Clark's 1966 Cord Sportsman is for sale on eBay.

I'm a little tapped out right now, so I don't have the fifty-six grand asking price. But this isn't a car blog, so I don't really care about the automobile, though it is one badass-looking machine. What draws my attention to the linked article is that Clark's career in game shows doesn't even get a mention.

Okay, Dick Clark was big in early (and middle-aged) rock 'n' roll. But he also had this little thing called Pyramid. The show didn't last quite as long as American Bandstand, but it hung around for a while. Would a tiny nod to it have been so out of place?

Game shows really are the Rodney Dangerfield genre. No respect, I tell ya. Oh well, congrats to whoever comes up with the cash for the car. And by the way, the guy who once owned it hosted one of the greatest game shows ever.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Upfronting with GSN

The GSN upfront came and went today. Amid much hoopla about how swell the network is doing, GSN greenlighted their own versions of two game shows: Minute To Win It (from NBC) and The Chase (from Britain's ITV). Everybody has known about the first show for a while. Apolo Ohno will bring the stuntfest to air June 25. Buzzerblog's Alex Davis, diehard fan of Brit game shows, had been heavily hinting about the second show. No airdate or host was announced for The Chase.

The development slate includes a couple items I've already blogged about: The Imposter, a reality-ish version of To Tell the Truth, and Where Have You Been All My Life, a dating show that Brooke Burns hosted a pilot for. Brooke allegedly didn't impress the execs, so who knows about that project.

There are some other things in development, a mix of traditional game shows and reality stuff. Grumpy me isn't particularly impressed by any of the ideas. If I had to guess, I'd say that the survey-based Mind of a Man would be most likely to succeed with GSN's audience. The reality shows frankly all look like losers with the network's viewers. Especially Dance Rivals, some weird competition between two dance studios in Orem, Utah (honest!)

You'd think that Dancing With the Stars would have soured GSN execs on anything remotely connected to choreography.

UPDATE: Interesting that the development idea getting the most press is It Takes a Church. It's a church-based dating show. Yeah, sounds strange to me, too. But maybe I should have expected it after American Bible Challenge blew the Nielsen doors off.

Ratings: syndies blah out

The last week of March went out like a blah lamb for syndicated game shows. Some ticked down a little, some stayed the same. As the weather warms up, people spend less time in front of the tube. TVNewsCheck presents the less than inspiring news for the week of March 25-31...

Wheel of Fortune 7.2 - down a tick
Jeopardy 5.9 - followed the soulmate down a tick
Family Feud 4.8 - down a tick, this is getting depressing
Millionaire 2.4 - flat
Baggage 1.1 - flat, which ain't bad for poor Jerry

Meredith didn't have the greatest week but she managed to make TV by the Numbers' top 25 list. The viewership averages: Wheel of Fortune 11.3 million, Jeopardy 9.0 million, Family Feud 7.0 million, Millionaire 3.3 million. The numbers are coasting downward as we head into spring.

GSN enjoyed another solid week for April 1-7: 381K/263K viewership averages prime time/total day. Family Trade continues its sorry saga, however. Four of the five bottom slots for the week. Not much longer until bye-bye.

Monday, April 8, 2013

All Fear Factor, all the time

I don't know if I'm ready for a Fear Factor channel. But it's coming on YouTube, according to Endemol exec Tim Hincks.

Speaking at the MIPTV funfest in Cannes, Hincks says Endemol is getting back into the acquisitions business. The production company has endured some rough financial times, but Hincks is putting on as brave a face as possible.

As for the Factor channel, it will feature archival footage from the NBC series plus oddball clips sent in by oddball users. Endemol wants to expand the channel worldwide, which may be just what the world needs now.

Meanwhile, Fremantle is peddling the Perfect Score format at Cannes. This is the Dating Game retread spiced up with compatibility scores. In the U.S. we'll see it on the CW this July, but Fremantle wants to spread it around the globe. They're also looking to sell many other unscripted formats.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sunday morning GSN chatter

Just posted a blog entry about the upcoming upfront (sorry) from GSN. Douglas Pucci has also posted the latest GSN viewer numbers, for March 25-31. A little chitchat ensues on the GSN board...

Other poster: Is The Impostor really like TTTT or more like NBC's Identity? Or is it some hybrid?

Contestants have to figure out which member of a family is an impostor, after staying with them for 48 hours. You can check the casting call.

Other poster: Didn't GSN come up with some Pawn Shop show featuring sisters?

That was War of the Rose Sisters, about a couple sisters in Toledo. There were a few stories about it in early 2012 (see the link) but nothing's been heard since. Instead we got Family Trade, which is expiring in a hurry.

A different poster: Comcast program guide says Family Trade airs at 9AM EST Saturday mornings, and they're right. No sign of P+, for which GSN supposedly picked up 65 episodes from 1981-82 with Tom Kennedy.

Family Trade might be gone even sooner than the current pdfs show [the week of April 22-28]. The Saturday morning showings on March 30 got the two worst numbers of the week for GSN. The first half-hour somehow got a zero rating. That ain't good. Even the demos are pretty bad, except for the nonexistent demo. Family Trade does great with nonexistent people.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Up at the front

GSN's upfront is scheduled for this Tuesday, April 9. The game show Interwebs are speculating on possible announcements.

I only know what I read on the Internet. Which means I know nothing, except what GSN has already made public. An item which bloggers seem to agree on is that The Impostor, a reality-ish version of To Tell the Truth I once faux-tweeted about, is coming to our little game show network. GSN's remake of Minute To Win It is already taping, as everybody now knows. The Ohno version supposedly debuts in June. Beyond these bits and pieces of news, everything is iffy.

Of course, just because a network announces a plan at its upfront doesn't mean the proposal will actually come to pass. The presentation is mainly propaganda for how swell and nifty and peachy keen the network is, not a solemn discussion of future projects. We'll see what happy talk comes from GSN in a few days. The network really is on a ratings roll lately. Even if the Sale of the Century reruns are dying a Nielsen death.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Good cause

Last year I got into a tangle with one of the people who run the 24-Hour Game Show Marathon. The details are too boring to review, so I'll just plug the second run of the marathon. It's coming May 18, and you can read all about it on Facebook.

The lineup includes non-game show Whose Line Is It Anyway, but I shouldn't mention this. Might get into another tangle (wink). One thing's for sure: the marathon is all for a good cause. That's why I chipped in $50 last year. So if you've got a little spare change, please consider contributing.

And if you're a blogger, you might want to consider the $250 bonus deal. To quote the marathon's Facebook page: "$250 gets plugs EVERYWHERE: on our site, on our Facebook and every hour during the broadcast!" I'm not looking for plugs, but it sounds like a nice deal for commercial websites...or commercial anythings.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Canucks re-up Match Game

This blog takes a quite chauvinistic U.S.-centric view. But even nationalistic moi will nod toward our neighbors in the great white north. Especially when they renew their version of an iconic American game show.

Canada's Comedy Network has re-upped Match Game for another sixty eps. The ratings have been okay. Which was also my critical verdict on the show after I watched a little on YouTube. Darrin Rose returns as the pleasant if not rock-out funny host. Sean Cullen also comes back as the excitable regular panelist, along with stand-up comic Debra DiGiovanni.

The renewal makes me wonder if Match Game might ever rise again in the U.S. Three tries at a revival have all flopped for various reasons. The main problem is the giant shadow cast by the 1973-82 Gene Rayburn version, which of course was itself a revival of the stuffy '60s original.

If any brave soul did try a revival, the comparisons to Richard and Brett and Charles would come quick and dirty. Up north they can worry a little less about the giant shadow, so they just rolled the dice and did the show. So far they haven't crapped out.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A minute on the web

Happened to mention baseball a while ago, and I'll let you in on some little known corners of the Web. They're called game day threads, and they consist of comments from baseball fans who are watching their bat-and-ball heroes march to victory or bumble to defeat.

Some sites keep the threads reasonably clean and sensible. Then there are other sites, like Lone Star Ball, a fansite for Texas Rangers partisans. The game day threads on this site run to tedious profanity and rock-bottom idiocy. In other words, the threads are funny and/or sad, depending.

Last night the thread was rocking because Rangers hurler Yu Darvish almost pitched a perfect game. Amid the general hysteria, one poster dropped this ironic note: "You guys seeing this ep of Minute To Win It on GSN? Damn, this is legendary stuff."

By the site's standards, this was a witty comment. Funny thing, though. It's quite possible that more people were watching the legendary Minute episode than the Rangers telecast. Sure, it's an unfair comparison because GSN was broadcasting nationally while the Rangers were only televising on a regional sports net.

But Guy Fieri might have had the last laugh.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Ratings: Wheel rolls

Except for Wheel of Fortune, syndicated game shows didn't move much in the week of March 18-24. But Pat and Vanna bounced back smartly from their swoon the previous week, which was induced by the onset of Daylight Savings Time. TVNewsCheck has the numbers for all the shows:

Wheel of Fortune 7.3 - up six ticks, nice job
Jeopardy 6.0 - down a couple ticks
Family Feud 4.9 - up a tick
Millionaire 2.4 - up a couple ticks as Meredith counts down the days
Baggage 1.1 - down a tick for woeful Jerry

Meredith made the top 25 list at TV by the Numbers.  The viewership averages: Wheel of Fortune 11.4 million (weekend repeat 3.6 million), Jeopardy 9.1 million, Family Feud 7.1 million, Millionaire 3.2 million. Nice to see Millionaire sneak into the chart.

TVNewser says that GSN had a fine first quarter, averaging 361K/282K viewers prime time/total day. The network ranked 40th and 39th in the windows.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Play ball

Thought about an April Fools post but decided against the cliché. Today also happens to be Opening Day for baseball season, though my Rangers screwed up the first real game last night. So I hunted around YouTube and found this cute Match Game video on the relationship of baseball to a honeymoon.

Sadly, the winsome contestant could only come up with a pedestrian answer. The audience groaned but all was not lost. Richard Dawson deadpanned a funnier reply, then exchanged further quips with Gene Rayburn.

As I recall, baseball Hall of Famer Don Sutton showed up on the Match Game panel for a few episodes. Lots of Dodgers turned up on various California-based game shows. In much later life Sutton would talk (a lot) on Atlanta Braves broadcasts. He's always been a controversial pick for Cooperstown, but he's never been tongue-tied. Which certainly came in handy on Match Game.