Monday, January 4, 2016

To renew or not to renew

Coming off the network's most watched year ever, GSN has some interesting renewal decisions on their hands.

Three decisions, to be exact: The Chase, Chain Reaction and Hellevator. The renewal decisions on these shows are "interesting" because, of course, they get tricky numbers from the Nielsen Company. If total viewers ruled the roost at GSN, The Chase would be a lock for renewal. The show regularly pulls 500K+ or even 600K+ viewer numbers. Sadly for Brooke and Beastie, the best show on GSN skews very old for a network that already skews very, very old. You would expect this from a completely traditional quizzer, and you would not be disappointed.

GSN has also piled up 51 eps of The Chase and might figure that's enough for endless repeats. I think another season of fifteen eps or so would make the repeats more palatable, but I'm not running the network. Meanwhile, fellow traditional game show Chain Reaction has gotten so-so overall viewer totals and demos. The latest runs on Christmas Day and New Year's Day did perk up, so a late favorable trend might get the show another go-round.

Still, I'm afraid Chain Reaction may end up like GSN's version of Pyramid, a one-season wonder that lasts forever in afternoon reruns. That would be too bad, because the Mike Catherwood update solved all the problems of the old Dylan Lane version, while keeping the addictive gameplay. Hellevator is the oddest duck in the bunch. The twisted sisters started out strong and then saw their total viewer numbers fall off a really steep cliff. But the show has always skewed extremely young by GSN's geriatric standards.

I would try a second season with less grubbiness - get rid of the bugs and most of the fake blood, along with the tedious back stories about homicidal nurses and nutty undertakers - and more humor and more gameplay. This might make the show more palatable to GSN's usual viewers while retaining a lot of the young'uns.

Scott Rahner notes that all three of these shows turned up in GSN's Happy New Year promo. My guess is that the promo means exactly nothing, but we'll see soon enough.

UPDATE: Today brings news items about both our little game show networks.

Buzzr will start running some new eps of their current oldies, according to the diginet's twitter feed. This might make complaining Internet hardcores happy but will do little to lift the subchannel's fortunes in the real world. Sooner or later Buzzr will have to run modern shows - like Harvey Feud or Carey The Price is Right - to get traction with a broader audience than the tiny clique of oldies fans.

Scott Rahner says that GSN is developing a couple new shows: Divided, a version of a Brit quizzer, and #Friendtrip, a reality show where comedians compete to survive on the road without money(?) Unlike the Buzzr news this is just a report by Scott with no official confirmation that I can find. And, of course, there's no guarantee that either show will get to air.


  1. There's one problem fron Lane's Chain Reaction that wasn't solved in Mike Carherwood's version: the betting round is still there.

    1. What? The betting round is great. The most exciting thing on the show is when somebody makes a big bet in a close game. Catherwood's version wisely retained the round.

    2. But the betting round isn't very exciting. Teams are always going to play it safe, even if they are in the lead with a huge amount of money. It gets boring very easily. There is no suspense or pressure in this round.

      Another problem I have is that there is no consolation money for the bonus round. If you lose the bonus round, you get no additional money for every word. All this hard work for nothing.

    3. Couldn't disagree more. The betting round gets extremely interesting in a close game, as the trailing team tries to catch up with critical bets. I'll admit that if the game isn't close, things aren't that exciting. But that would happen with or without the betting round.

      As for no extra money in the bonus round, I don't care much one way or the other. If they want to give a little money for each word solved, that's fine with me. If they don't, that's fine, too.

    4. The betting round I like in Chain Reaction. But, I have to completely back the comment above where it is either all ($5,000 + main game total) or nothing (only main game total) in the bonus round. I do not like that.

      I think every additional word scored in the bonus round should be worth $100 up until the seventh (then the current +$5,000).

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  3. Interesting of all days Casey you post this. Keep checking back at GameShowNetworkNews over the next few hours for big news on GSN's development slate. I just have to confirm some news, but I cannot promise there is anything about renewals on The Chase, Chain Reaction or Hellevator (I also heard a couple weeks ago the absolute latest we will hear about the status on the three shows above is the upfronts).