Why Game Show Marathon
May Be Key -
reading this column, youre probably a game show fan.
If not, then stop reading now. Just kidding. Anyway,
for the traditionalist game show fans like me, a big
smile comes to our faces when we see a return of more
traditional game shows
with less of an emphasis on the
extreme reality shows that we saw at times during the
last few years.
What do I mean? Consider that NBC
basically swapped out Fear Factor for Deal or No
to fantastic results. Consider that GSN is
strongly exploring traditional and hybrid formats and
creating fantastic shows such as Annie Duke
Takes on the World, while leaving behind some of the
poor choices of recent years programmingwise (hello,
Kenny vs. Spenny). Theyve even brought back live
interactive gameplay with Playmania
plus having almost
100% of their schedule play-along.
Youve seen all the upcoming items
chronicled in the news section here at Game Show NewsNet.
But one of those shows, alone, could make or break the
looming game show resurgence. Its CBS Game Show
Marathon. The series, which puts celebrities into CBS
own The Price is Right and six other classic shows, is
in my opinion the key to just how far the current game
show push goes.
First, I still contend that GSN should
take advantage of the series airing for its own
promotion. It should buy commercials inside the series
(yes, I know thats not a cheap prospect, but youve
gotta know your audience!). It should also without
necessarily attempting to promote Marathon air the shows it has
the rights to on the same night or the next night
as they are played on Marathon. (GSN does not have rights to The Price is Right. I
am not sure if they still have rights to Lets Make a
Deal or not, but if they do, they dont air it
But beyond all that, if Marathon itself can garner strong ratings, from classic game show
fans and modern game show fans (who obviously exist)
alike, it could be the key to a full revival of game
shows. Lets consider why:
Already, networks are clamoring for the
next Deal or No Deal, just like everyone was clamoring
for the next Millionaire back in 1999. Already, ABC
has signed on for Set For the Rest of Your Life, NBC
has taken 1 vs. 100, and FOX has inked a deal for
Show Me the Money. ABC also is in talks for Con.Test.
Many have complained about the
saturation of games and reality TV in network prime
time programming, and how they are taking money away
from those who work on scripted series. Apparently
people are forgetting about the days of prime time game
shows many years ago
and to be honest, if the scripted
series were any good
this wouldnt be an issue. And to
their credit, there have been several excellent scripted
series to come out in the last few years.
If Marathon gets strong ratings...this will be only the beginning. Not only would
Marathon become a regular feature (possible sweeps stunt series?)
but it would prove that the gimmicks that people have
thought are required for viewership (and Im talking
about gimmicks in the game, not things like the
play-at-home features) arent necessary.
Increasingly, though, I dont
think we will see a return of primetime Millionaire.
Host Regis Philbin was just named as host of a talent
contest on NBC this summer, which certainly seems
like a sign to me. I guess well see though.
Talent shows are certainly a hallmark of
the current revival
and interestingly, more than
American Idol is surviving. So You Think You Can
Dance is back. So is Rock Star. And Last Comic
Standing. But Idol is really the only one that takes
on the big guys. And wins. Big.
So how does Marathon affect cable? Not only could you see a renewed push for
games on cable networks particularly CBS/Viacoms
networks but you also likely would see a surge in
development by GSN for revivals and original concepts.
And for that matter, GSN is already back
on the right track
so any effect from Marathon would only help them further.
Already there have been developments on
the syndicated front. The team behind the powerhouse
combo of Wheel and Jeopardy! is planning another
hour of daytime games for Fall 2007. The actual games
have yet to be announced, but the rumor is one revival
and one original show. They do have a number of
properties available for that revival
picking the right
one, and picking the right original to pair with it
determine its success.
The daytime Deal or No Deal also
probably will launch at the same time
and again, if
Marathon is successful
you could very well see revivals of one or two of the Marathon series on the docket for Fall 2007.
In closing, you see why Marathon could be very important to the immediate future of the
genre we all love. Well see in just a few weeks.
Jason Elliott ain't a player, he just crushes a lot. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org