top ten most-watched shows of the week on broadcast TV.
These are just viewer numbers, without all the demo slicing and dicing networks like to do. But the three shows - of course, ABC's Celebrity Family Feud, 100K Pyramid and Match Game - did just fine in the advertiser-friendly demos as well.
Which got me rustling through the ancient ratings on a site called Classic Hits TV. I vaguely recalled the genre doing well among the top shows of the 1950s, before those dreary scandals cropped up. For readers with less mileage on the odometer than moi, the fifties were the decade when commercial television really barged into American households. (And it's stayed there ever since.)
Sure enough, in 1955-56 three game shows ranked in the top ten in household ratings. Yes, one of them was rigged (64K Question) and one was more of a talk show with Groucho than a game show (You Bet Your Life). The other was I've Got a Secret, which remains my black and white favorite among classic game shows.
These ratings cover the entire 1955-56 season, not just one summer week. Game shows were big back then...before all the unpleasantness.
HUMOROUS UPDATE: Just noticed that Game Show Newsnet linked to the same story and said nine of the week's top ten shows were game shows. I know the site has a mile-wide definition of "game show." But how do Person of Interest, NCIS, Big Bang Theory and 60 Minutes fit into the genre under any definition? Life is all one big game?