The success of NBC’s Deal or No Deal in primetime has the major Hollywood distributors seeking the next Jeopardy!—at least five new game shows are in the works.
With last season’s success of NBC’s Deal or No Deal—the Monday night version was a top-20 show among viewers 18-49—syndicators are once again mining the game show genre.
At last count, they are developing at least five new games show for fall 2007.
“We’re hearing that TV stations want more games,” said Harry Friedman, executive producer of King World’s Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!, which remain the top-rated shows in all of syndication among households. “That is what encouraged us to develop and bring these shows to market.”
When he says “these shows,” Friedman is referring to a remake of Joker’s Wild and a new show called Combination Lock. Produced in partnership with Sony and King World, the newcomers will probably be shot in high-def and will have an online play-along component, which seems to be a requirement for every game show in the new digital age.
“I think it’s come to be understood that all of those online brand extensions are part of what it takes today to launch and maintain a show,” Friedman said.
NBC Universal is keeping quiet, but sources say next month the distributor will shoot the pilot of the syndicated version of Deal, albeit without primetime host Howie Mandel.
The Tribune station group, which is looking to mix up its program offerings, is reportedly in talks with Fremantle about creating a game-show companion for Family Feud.
Finally, Twentieth Television’s My Network TV’s first programming move beyond its primetime telenovelas was to order a two-hour afternoon game show called My Games Fever from Elizabeth Murdoch’s (yes, daughter of Rupert) Shine TV, which is importing the format from Britain.
My Games Fever will run on MNT affiliates from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. starting Dec. 4. Viewers at home can text message or e-mail the show, and get a chance to play—and win—the game.
“That’s what makes this fun and unique,” said Paul Buccieri, president of programming for Twentieth. “There are two levels of play. There’s the passive level of sitting around and watching the games or the active element, which allows you at home to be a participant in this show.”
If all goes well, Twentieth plans to take My Games Fever into national syndication in February 2007. Buccieri also said that Twentieth Television has other games in development.
Deal is also spawning some primetime competition. Sometime this fall, Fox will try another British import, The Rich List. Trivia-laden contestants are challenged to complete lists, such as the top-five money-making Beatles songs, the films of Steven Spielberg or states with a coastline. The more lists contestants and teams complete, the more money they can make.
Besides The Rich List, Fox also is developing another network game in conjunction with Fremantle, sources said.
“There’s always an appetite for a good game show among American audiences,” Buccieri said. “It’s been proven time and time again that when a good quality game show comes out, the marketplace follows.”