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The Game Show Forum => GSN® and BUZZR TV® => Topic started by: uncamark on January 28, 2004, 03:14:02 PM

Title: Bland Ambition
Post by: uncamark on January 28, 2004, 03:14:02 PM
This Variety article (http://\"http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story2&cid=1944&u=/variety/20040119/va_ne_al/cablers__bland_ambition&printer=1\") gives some insight as to why certain cable channels aimed at niche audiences have been forced to not be so niche, including a certain noted game show channel.

Relevant excerpts:

Newly christened GSN (formerly Game Show Network) has rejigged primetime to boost broadcast-style reality: "Fake-a-Date" toplines the original "Joe Millionaire," Evan Marriott, while "Kenny vs. Spenny" is a competition show similar to MTV's "Jackass."


"The biggest drive for us is to have the biggest business potential possible. Having the assets of our parent companies (Liberty Media and Sony) allows us be much bigger than gameshows," GSN prexy-CEO Rich Cronin says.

---------------

GSN's Cronin argues that expanding the brand has historically proven successful.

"Doing just gameshows was working well for us, but if musicvideos were working well for MTV more than a decade ago, why did they move away from that one genre? They're now the channel of music and youth culture. I think the possibilities are so much bigger to develop a breakthrough hit if you can go to different genres."

Cronin, former head of marketing for Nickelodeon when the cabler was in its infant years, points out that Nick's evolution from daytime preschool programming to kids-of-all-ages station was for the better.

"There were some people that criticized it at the time. 'Oh no, here is this commercial-free preschool network and now they're going to ruin it.' Well, look how great the network is doing now," he says.

A niche cabler starts feeling the mainstream itch when it hits 50 million homes.

So what about the purists --- those who'd prefer not to deviate from a channel's original mission?

Those inclined to serve the core audience, whatever the limited economics, are shown the exit.

Bob Boden, former programming head for then-Game Show Network, was phased out right along with the old name. (Cronin admits that a minority who still "pitch the niche" still work within the GSN ranks.)

---------------------

Let's all play--PITCH THE NICHE!  (Sorry.)
Title: Bland Ambition
Post by: PeterMarshallFan on January 28, 2004, 03:36:29 PM
Quote
GSN's Cronin argues that expanding the brand has historically proven successful.

GSN Video Games. Naturally Stoned. And if you want to reach back farther, Love Buffet, Who Dares Wins, and to an extent DJ Games. 25 points to the first person who tells me what all those shows had in common when they ran on GSN.

Quote
"Doing just gameshows was working well for us, but if musicvideos were working well for MTV more than a decade ago, why did they move away from that one genre

Because advertisers decided that they'd rather do business with 18 year olds instead. I can't remember who brought up the point that the whole 18-49 demographics thing is a farce that'll wear off, but that seemed pretty accurate to me.

Quote
"There were some people that criticized it at the time. 'Oh no, here is this commercial-free preschool network and now they're going to ruin it.' Well, look how great the network is doing now," he says.

The last time I landed on it while randomly flipping channels, Nickelodeon came off as the Spongebob Squarepants network. If that's his idea of doing great, I shudder to think what he considers "great" for GSN (the return of Burt Luddin?)

Quote
Those inclined to serve the core audience, whatever the limited economics, are shown the exit.

Bob Boden, former programming head for then-Game Show Network, was phased out right along with the old name. (Cronin admits that a minority who still "pitch the niche" still work within the GSN ranks.)

Sad, but true--I've been a victim of having different views than the big boss before. I bet those "Pitch the niche" guys that are left won't be there too long.

Obviously, I wish Boden the best. He should've had a crack at being the top of the totem pole.
Title: Bland Ambition
Post by: GS Warehouse on January 28, 2004, 05:00:24 PM
[quote name=\'PeterMarshallFan\' date=\'Jan 28 2004, 03:36 PM\'] GSN Video Games. Naturally Stoned. And if you want to reach back farther, Love Buffet, Who Dares Wins, and to an extent DJ Games. 25 points to the first person who tells me what all those shows had in common when they ran on GSN. [/quote]
 Um...they all sucked?
Title: Bland Ambition
Post by: PeterMarshallFan on January 28, 2004, 05:04:52 PM
[quote name=\'GS Warehouse\' date=\'Jan 28 2004, 06:00 PM\'] [quote name=\'PeterMarshallFan\' date=\'Jan 28 2004, 03:36 PM\'] GSN Video Games. Naturally Stoned. And if you want to reach back farther, Love Buffet, Who Dares Wins, and to an extent DJ Games. 25 points to the first person who tells me what all those shows had in common when they ran on GSN. [/quote]
Um...they all sucked? [/quote]
 That, and the fact they all flopped.
Title: Bland Ambition
Post by: GS Warehouse on January 28, 2004, 05:09:44 PM
[quote name=\'PeterMarshallFan\' date=\'Jan 28 2004, 05:04 PM\'] [quote name=\'GS Warehouse\' date=\'Jan 28 2004, 06:00 PM\'] [quote name=\'PeterMarshallFan\' date=\'Jan 28 2004, 03:36 PM\'] GSN Video Games. Naturally Stoned. And if you want to reach back farther, Love Buffet, Who Dares Wins, and to an extent DJ Games. 25 points to the first person who tells me what all those shows had in common when they ran on GSN. [/quote]
Um...they all sucked? [/quote]
That, and the fact they all flopped. [/quote]
 Close enough.  When do I get my points? :-)
Title: Bland Ambition
Post by: PeterMarshallFan on January 28, 2004, 05:11:09 PM
[quote name=\'GS Warehouse\' date=\'Jan 28 2004, 06:09 PM\'] [quote name=\'PeterMarshallFan\' date=\'Jan 28 2004, 05:04 PM\'] [quote name=\'GS Warehouse\' date=\'Jan 28 2004, 06:00 PM\'] [quote name=\'PeterMarshallFan\' date=\'Jan 28 2004, 03:36 PM\'] GSN Video Games. Naturally Stoned. And if you want to reach back farther, Love Buffet, Who Dares Wins, and to an extent DJ Games. 25 points to the first person who tells me what all those shows had in common when they ran on GSN. [/quote]
Um...they all sucked? [/quote]
That, and the fact they all flopped. [/quote]
Close enough.  When do I get my points? :-) [/quote]
When GSN puts Bullseye on the schedule. :-P
Title: Bland Ambition
Post by: Don Howard on January 28, 2004, 05:42:50 PM
Now, now, let's give the new format a chance. Crapping For Cash may turn out to be a tape trader's dream.
Title: Bland Ambition
Post by: 1978-Jeopardy on January 28, 2004, 06:32:46 PM
Can anyone picture GSN 5 years from now?

***GSN presents the classic game show block!***

8:00am Family feud
8:30 Match game
9:00 $100,000 pyramid
9:30 Wheel of fortune
10:00am - 8:00am: crap, plain and simple.

It was fun while it lasted. Can anyone think of another network that would possibly air gameshows, since we lost the USA network? I can picture Trio airing classic HSQ, but that's it...

Quote
Now, now, let's give the new format a chance. Crapping For Cash may turn out to be a tape trader's dream.

Don't be silly! That's much too classy for GSN...
Title: Bland Ambition
Post by: clemon79 on January 28, 2004, 06:35:32 PM
[quote name=\'1978-Jeopardy\' date=\'Jan 28 2004, 04:32 PM\']
Quote
Now, now, let's give the new format a chance. Crapping For Cash may turn out to be a tape trader's dream.

Don't be silly! That's much too classy for GSN... [/quote]
 Perhaps, but finally, not only might a "so-and-so s#*%@ his pants" post on ATGS be topical, it might be a recap of the Tournament Of Champions! :)
Title: Bland Ambition
Post by: BrandonFG on January 28, 2004, 06:58:43 PM
[quote name=\'1978-Jeopardy\' date=\'Jan 28 2004, 06:32 PM\'] It was fun while it lasted. Can anyone think of another network that would possibly air gameshows, since we lost the USA network? I can picture Trio airing classic HSQ, but that's it...
 [/quote]
Well, PAX has themselves a decent little evening lineup. Perhaps they could pick up some of the more recent GSN shows, mainly since 1) they aired Hollywood Showdown, and 2) they have already aired 2 other Fremantle properties, Feud and Beat the Clock...I imagine Whammy wouldn't be too difficult because of #2 alone.

As for another cable network, I think our resources are exhausted. Just about every single network has very little to do with its original intent for programming, esp. those that used to have game show repeats.
Title: Bland Ambition
Post by: gameshowguy2000 on January 28, 2004, 07:48:55 PM
And expect me to be sawing (snoring) through some of the new stuff. Heck, here goes:

"And it all goes downhill from there....ZZZZ (Snoring As We Speak)"
Title: Bland Ambition
Post by: CaseyAbell on January 28, 2004, 10:34:28 PM
The "pitch the niche" folks obviously still have a lot of say at GSN. The new March 15 schedule on Adlink is completely dominated by traditional in-studio game shows. Some non-trad stuff gets mixed in at 10:00 and 11:00 Eastern. But even during these hours there's plenty of standard game show programming to hedge GSN's bets.

Can't blame Cronin for dipping his toe very gingerly into the non-traditional waters. He can't expand his carriage as long as he's stuck with the usual old-skewing audience for traditional game shows. But he can't alienate all the niche freaks (love that term) with a total, immediate makeover.

Mu guess is that any of the non-traditional stuff which doesn't get good numbers right quick will get the ax right quick.

By the way, I LIKED Naturally Stoned. Sure, the narrator needed to be de-snarked. But Chuck was charming and likeable, much more alert and witty than the usual brain-dead subjects of these shows. Too bad that genuine reality intruded with his marital problems.
Title: Bland Ambition
Post by: Jay Temple on January 28, 2004, 11:33:42 PM
[quote name=\'1978-Jeopardy\' date=\'Jan 28 2004, 05:32 PM\']
Quote
Now, now, let's give the new format a chance. Crapping For Cash may turn out to be a tape trader's dream.

Don't be silly! That's much too classy for GSN... [/quote]
 Even Fox wouldn't sink that low.  The WB, on the other hand, ...
Title: Bland Ambition
Post by: Tony on January 29, 2004, 02:14:07 PM
Quote
Well, PAX has themselves a decent little evening lineup. Perhaps they could pick up some of the more recent GSN shows, mainly since 1) they aired Hollywood Showdown, and 2) they have already aired 2 other Fremantle properties, Feud and Beat the Clock...I imagine Whammy wouldn't be too difficult because of #2 alone.

As for another cable network, I think our resources are exhausted. Just about every single network has very little to do with its original intent for programming, esp. those that used to have game show repeats.

Given that PAX is having trouble staying afloat as it is, I don't think even they will be a viable option right now.

Is it just me, or does the whole situation with GSN, the cancellations, and the lack of enthusiasm for the genre among broadcast and cable networks (even counting the pickups by ABC, which is clearly desperate for something to work ratingswise) seem like we are on the verge of a Game Show Great Depression (as oppposed to just a recession)?
Title: Bland Ambition
Post by: TonicBH on January 30, 2004, 12:43:08 PM
[quote name=\'Tony\' date=\'Jan 29 2004, 02:14 PM\']Is it just me, or does the whole situation with GSN, the cancellations, and the lack of enthusiasm for the genre among broadcast and cable networks (even counting the pickups by ABC, which is clearly desperate for something to work ratingswise) seem like we are on the verge of a Game Show Great Depression (as oppposed to just a recession)? [/quote]
It's funny, I was thinking about that about a week or two ago, that we may be heading into a "Great Game Show Depression".
Title: Bland Ambition
Post by: CaseyAbell on January 30, 2004, 01:40:42 PM
GSN's prime time household ratings aren't looking too depressed. They were up 22% year-to-year in January:

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=stor...aced_by__monk_1 (http://\"http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/variety/20040128/va_ne_al/usa_conquers_primetime_paced_by__monk_1\")

Cable in general had a great month, and GSN didn't get left out. The steady diet of Millionaire, Lingo and MG seems to have worked. The buzz over Super Millionaire will only help February's numbers.

Sure, the demos may not be the greatest, though GSN bragged that Millionaire has done well in 25-54. Major question: will the "pitch the niche" folks use the ratings upturn to argue against non-trad stuff? Probably, and I gotta think that any non-traditional shows which hurt GSN's household count will be quickly down for the count.

With four solid performers in syndication - WoF, Jeopardy, Millionaire and Feud - and ABC dabbling in prime time gamers again, the rumors of game show depression seem greatly exaggerated.
Title: Bland Ambition
Post by: ilb4ever2000 on January 30, 2004, 03:42:19 PM
Quote
It's funny, I was thinking about that about a week or two ago, that we may be heading into a "Great Game Show Depression".

Game shows are still a lot better off now than they were in, say, 1996.
Title: Bland Ambition
Post by: BrandonFG on January 30, 2004, 03:51:10 PM
[quote name=\'ilb4ever2000\' date=\'Jan 30 2004, 03:42 PM\']
Quote
It's funny, I was thinking about that about a week or two ago, that we may be heading into a "Great Game Show Depression".

Game shows are still a lot better off now than they were in, say, 1996. [/quote]
Nah...I think 96 was when things started to pick back up, at least in syndication. I'd say the period between 1993-95, when every supporting actor from a TV show had their own talk show...remember Tempestt Bledsoe? Gabrielle Carteris? We still have four or five names in syndication (five if "Street Smarts" returns), so there's honestly no real depression to worry about. And I think that in the next 2 or 3 years, people will tire of reality shows, just like they tired of million dollar game shows, "Friends" clones, and trash talk.
Title: Bland Ambition
Post by: Don Howard on January 30, 2004, 03:53:15 PM
[quote name=\'fostergray82\' date=\'Jan 30 2004, 03:51 PM\'] [quote name=\'ilb4ever2000\' date=\'Jan 30 2004, 03:42 PM\']
Quote
It's funny, I was thinking about that about a week or two ago, that we may be heading into a "Great Game Show Depression".

Game shows are still a lot better off now than they were in, say, 1996. [/quote]
Nah...I think 96 was when things started to pick back up, at least in syndication. I'd say the period between 1993-95, when every supporting actor from a TV show had their own talk show...remember Tempestt Bledsoe? Gabrielle Carteris? We still have four or five names in syndication (five if "Street Smarts" returns), so there's honestly no real depression to worry about. And I think that in the next 2 or 3 years, people will tire of reality shows, just like they tired of million dollar game shows, "Friends" clones, and trash talk. [/quote]
 And 1996 saw the inaugural appearance of Debt, heralded by Wink Martindale as "the return of the game show".
Title: Bland Ambition
Post by: Tony on January 30, 2004, 06:00:23 PM
Okay, so I was perhaps overstating the "Game Show Great Depression."  Perhaps I should explain my reasoning:

The Big Three are no longer at the top of their game quality-wise (well, maybe TPIR still is) and are slowly dropping ratings-wise as well.  I remember reading from somewhere that the ABC station group had struggled with the decision to renew WOF and J! to 2008 because of their low demographic ratings (and I'm no happier than any of you about how the advertising community - and thus the TV industry - is a slave to demographics).  And, of course, there is the question of whether or not TPIR will survive if/when Barker retires/passes away.

GSN, while still airing some of their existing game shows in daytime, seems to be no longer interested in acquiring any new ones, either library product or originals.  I'm almost afraid that the 2-hour game show block dreamed up by "1978-Jeopardy" may actually be the future of GSN, just as the almost non-existence of music videos is the present of MTV.

As for the other syndicated shows produced in recent years, only few seem to be "getting it right" as far as quality goes, and even fewer are doing so while not pandering to "hipness."

All of which is to say, I don't feel as excited about watching the current crop of game shows as I did watching previous crops (and I'm only 27).
Title: Bland Ambition
Post by: GS Warehouse on January 30, 2004, 06:18:07 PM
[quote name=\'CaseyAbell\' date=\'Jan 30 2004, 01:40 PM\'] Sure, the demos may not be the greatest, though GSN bragged that Millionaire has done well in 25-54. Major question: will the "pitch the niche" folks use the ratings upturn to argue against non-trad stuff? Probably, and I gotta think that any non-traditional shows which hurt GSN's household count will be quickly down for the count. [/quote]
I'd like to know how MG and FF do in demos.  In today's Programming Insider column on Mediaweek.com, Marc Berman published an e-mail comment which says if GSN discovers that no one under 35 knows who Gene Rayburn and Richard Dawson are, then it's good-bye to the classics.  Considering Feud with that other Richard (he'll always be Al to me) will be around at least one more season, GSN should at least hold on to classic Feud for a while.

ObClassics: I'd also like to see math teachers using Pat and Liz's run on Blockbusters to teach counting by 6's.  Six, 12, 18, 24... :-)
Title: Bland Ambition
Post by: irismason42 on January 30, 2004, 08:37:32 PM
Well, I'm only 17 right now but I do know who Richard Dawson is besides hosting Family Feud, and Richard Dawson became a star of another game show called Masqurade Party '74 and he also did a 1984 TV Game Show Bloopers Special as well.
Title: Bland Ambition
Post by: CaseyAbell on January 31, 2004, 12:13:32 AM
Adlink's demos from the Los Angeles market show pretty much what you would expect: GSN skews old, female and lower-income. You could probably figure that out from the ads on the network.

But let's say the upturn in household numbers continues with the super-traditional game show lineup GSN currently runs. You gotta think the "pitch the niche" folks at GSN are saying that, even if the demos aren't fantastic, the network is at least growing its audience.

The non-traditional stuff hasn't proved that it can attract any audience. I like some new ideas in programming instead of the same old, same old GSN has featured over the past few months. But if the household ratings start to tank, GSN could do a 180 back to old game shows and more old game shows.
Title: Bland Ambition
Post by: Matt Ottinger on January 31, 2004, 10:54:53 AM
[quote name=\'CaseyAbell\' date=\'Jan 31 2004, 01:13 AM\'] The non-traditional stuff hasn't proved that it can attract any audience. [/quote]
 But they now have years of data on *exactly* what the traditional shows attract.  And now that GSN is about as big as it's going to get, they know those demographics aren't going to change much.  At some point even WE will get sick of the same reruns over and over, and adding obscure shows that only we know about isn't going to help the big picture.

So if they're not satisfied with the numbers that the classic shows bring in, and they know that those numbers aren't going to improve, they really have no other choice but to expand the brand.
Title: Bland Ambition
Post by: 1978-Jeopardy on January 31, 2004, 12:45:20 PM
Question: Do any of you think it is possible to have a successful network of entirely classic game shows? TV land seems to work entirely on sitcom reruns, so why can't it work for gameshows? If there was a more decent game show rotation (example, one timeslot swapping GO with chain reaction, another swapping treasure hunt and 78 jeopardy, etc...), a stationary afternoon or evening timeslot for longer-lasting, fun to watch shows (family feud and match game), and a two-hour sunday afternoon block of obscure or themed favorites, as on TV land (ex: the pyramids, panel shows) I promise a successful network.
Title: Bland Ambition
Post by: SRIV94 on January 31, 2004, 05:55:15 PM
[quote name=\'1978-Jeopardy\' date=\'Jan 31 2004, 11:45 AM\'] Question: Do any of you think it is possible to have a successful network of entirely classic game shows? TV land seems to work entirely on sitcom reruns, so why can't it work for gameshows? If there was a more decent game show rotation (example, one timeslot swapping GO with chain reaction, another swapping treasure hunt and 78 jeopardy, etc...), a stationary afternoon or evening timeslot for longer-lasting, fun to watch shows (family feud and match game), and a two-hour sunday afternoon block of obscure or themed favorites, as on TV land (ex: the pyramids, panel shows) I promise a successful network. [/quote]
 Many of us in this community would love it, but realistically it's a tough sell.  The password is--demographics (ding!).

Don't forget--GSN once did what you're proposing on their startup (none of which I really got to see, much to my own chagrin).  If it made enough bucks for them (and attracted a full cross-section of viewers), they'd still be doing it instead of a combo of library material and newer shows (and occasionally getting away from the genre).  Sitcom reruns have the advantage of having been in prime-time (and full national broadcasts--game shows had occasional problems with clearances), and having been syndicated before (meaning they're now proven commodities).  Game shows don't have that luxury.

Don't get me wrong--not having had the first four years of GSN has made me long for having a "Classic GSN" channel.  But it ain't gonna happen, at least anytime in the foreseeable future.

Doug
Title: Bland Ambition
Post by: Don Howard on January 31, 2004, 06:00:48 PM
[quote name=\'irismason42\' date=\'Jan 30 2004, 08:37 PM\'] Well, I'm only 17 right now but I do know who Richard Dawson is besides hosting Family Feud, and Richard Dawson became a star of another game show called Masqurade Party '74 and he also did a 1984 TV Game Show Bloopers Special as well. [/quote]
He did? I saw a special hosted by William Shatner in 1984 featuring moments from Goodson-Todman shows over the years. Richard was shown via clips but that's it. Carl Reiner hosted one in 1984, too.