Friday, November 6, 2015

A surprise for GSN

Wednesday night Nielsen sent very unusual news to GSN. Hellevator and Idiotest (one of the runs, anyway) both got an audience mostly in the 18-49 demo. For a network that sells oodles of ads for AARP and diabetes meds, that's a real stunner. As recently as summer, 2014 GSN got 18-49 numbers that were barely visible in prime time. (Forget about the even more ancient total day demos.)

The problem is that neither show did all that well in total viewers. Both only got 300K or so viewers in all age groups. That's not a disaster for GSN but it's not great compared to the network's recent prime time averages. Of course, if you listen to TV by the Numbers, you hear that total viewers don't mean squat and only the Sacred Demo counts.

I don't want to rehash all the yelps about TV's fixation on 18-49. But it's silly to deny that the fixation exists. You can even see it at our little game show network. Idiotest has always drawn only modest total viewer numbers compared to GSN's overall averages. But Ben Gleib and friends have earned a couple renewals based on their 18-49 showing, which is quite good by GSN standards. My guess is that Hellevator will also get a demo-based renewal, unless the numbers just fall apart.

One other note. It's easy to see why the black comedy Hellevator, with its screams and gore, doesn't appeal to GSN's usual grandmotherly audience. But I'm not sure why Idiotest, a studio-based puzzle game, has a problem with Grandma. Maybe it's Ben's edgy persona.


  1. I finally got around this morning to asking Douglas what the complete 18-49 and total viewer numbers were for the entire 7:30pm-12am lineup, which includes the Hellevator encore. Hopefully Douglas responds later today. All those numbers are always interesting to see, but from what we got from ShowBuzz yesterday, Hellevator and Idiotest (on 11/4) were winners in 18-49's but not so hot in total viewers.

    I know exactly what you mean by Hellevator getting a demo renewal, which is likely at this point. All runs of Hellevator I have seen ratings for consist of half or more of 18-49's, which is huge for GSN. Even Skin Wars only gets 30-35% of its audience in the 18-49 demo. With the current numbers, I would agree Hellevator is renewed. But we do have five more weeks of ratings to go.

    I thought GSN would give Steampunk'd a renewal based on demos. But I heard very differently from the production crew last night and I will have a story about that at GameShowNetworkNews later.

    Honestly, Steampunk'd should have had a second season or a one or two episode special. If you stuck that after Skin Wars next summer, it would probably pull more 18-49's than any other lead-out (Idiotest, Family Feud, even Fresh Paint). Looks like Skin Wars: Fresh Paint will follow Skin Wars timeslot-wise.

  2. I'm not surprised that Idiotest fell again. I think people might be tired of the show. Idiotest skews really young so it technically got renewed thanks to the demo. Not so sure about The Chase. They had a Friday 11 pm rerun pulled in favor in Hellevator. If the horror show does get renewed, it would be like Idiotest's case, the 18-49s. The reason people dislike Hellevator because to them, it's not a traditional game show. I like when GSN thinks outside of the box and tries a little variety. Skin Wars worked didn't it? If The Chase does get canned, I can imagine the traditionalists freaking out on game show boards and saying that GSN really sucks now.

  3. "The reason people dislike Hellevator because to them, it's not a traditional game show."

    No, the older-is-better crowd dislikes Hellevator because the production date is after 1990. Of course it's a game show. It's just another descendant of Beat the Clock.

    Of course, the handful of posters on Internet sites make no difference. Hellevator led the entire night on GSN in 18-49. If it keeps performing that well in the Sacred Demo, it's a lock for renewal.

  4. Douglas posted the 7:30pm-12am lineup for Wednesday. In comparison, you can see how young Hellevator and Idiotest skew in comparison to a young enough skewing show like Family Feud.

    Notice from 7:30pm to 8pm ET the big drop into Hellevator from Family Feud in total viewers but Hellevator stayed level in 18-49's.

    1. Which means the median viewer age for Hellevator was maybe ten or fifteen years younger than Family Feud. GSN will like to tell advertisers about that.

      It's no surprise that the horror epic skews young. It's a little surprising that Idiotest skews very young by GSN standards, though comedy often skews that way. That's why Comedy Central is so successful despite modest total viewer numbers. And Ben's somewhat sarcastic act is probably a turnoff for GSN's more traditional older audience.

    2. Idiotest is also an app-based game. It skews younger because of that too.

    3. I don't think the app has anything to do with the age skew. The app is never even mentioned on the show. But Ben is prominent on every episode.