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What Did The Survey Say
February 22

The survey has long been a staple of the game show. Match Game used them to determine the payoffs for the Audience Match, and out of that was created the perennial classic Family Feud. A couple of years later we were treated to the entertaining questions of Card Sharks. And thirty years after that, the big money, low concept Power of Ten advertised a $10 million prize for someone who could correctly predict the outcome of four nationwide surveys.

All fine and good, but the kind of surveys I'm going to rant about this week pertain to game shows, instead of being used on them. Two, in particular have caught my ire: The Price is Right and Game Show Network.

The Price is Right had a survey on their website where guests could answer all manner of questions pertaining to the on-air talent, the games, the prizes, the look...everything under the sun. If we're to believe the higher-ups, if the show gets a significant response in one direction, the show would be molded that way.

What concerns me is the things they didn't ask. For example "Do you like it when the host barnstorms his way through the one-bid rules, to finish with 'there I said it!' or something else?" "Do you like it when none of the six on-stage players win their pricing game?" "Do you like it when the player misses all four chip chances in Plinko and wins $0 with his free chip?" I sure don't.

The show has been so focused on fantastic prizes and making the atmosphere into a rockin' party that they've forgotten the fundamentals: that people like to see the host doing his job, that we like to see people actually winning stuff, that we like games that go together and don't look like they were chosen at random three minutes before the show started."

On the other hand, Game Show Network is once again trying to change direction. Apparently they've had enough with the classic game shows and are looking to move into the "reality" domain with Survivor, Amazing Race, Biggest Loser and others. Their survey reflects this as well, asking which shows we'd rather see.

Dear GSN: I watch for the game shows. I come for the Hollywood Squares from my college years, and I stay for the $25,000 Pyramid from my early days. If I want to watch reality shows, there are plenty of them that I can see any day. At this point, I watch roughly three hours each day. If you were to junk Millionaire, Jeopardy, Squares and the Pyramid hour, I would cancel that level of my cable service without a second thought.

The problem I had with the surveys is that it seemed those who were doing the asking had an idea of what they wanted already, and just wanted the respondents to confirm that new direction: the equivalent of "tell me how awesome I am."

The problem, at least right now is that neither TPIR or GSN are particularly awesome, and I don't like the way that either entity is moving.

Do ya wanna take a survey? Grab a clipboard at traviseberle@gmail.com, but bring your own ballpoint pen.