With growing interest in the genre, Sony Pictures Television is pitching Mind of a Man to stations for fall 2015, while Debmar-Mercury is said to be developing a new version of the classic What’s My Line. Broadcasters see game shows as alternatives for off-net sitcoms, which are in short supply.
Debmar-Mercury’s Celebrity Name Game with Craig Ferguson so far is generating just so-so ratings in its rookie season in broadcast syndication, but that hasn’t dimmed enthusiasm for game shows among the syndicators and broadcasters.
Sony Pictures Television is pitching Mind of a Man to stations for fall 2015, while Debmar-Mercury is developing a new version of the classic game show What’s My Line, according to people familiar with these deals.
Sony’s Mind will be a half-hour, Monday-Friday version of cable network GSN’s weekly Mind of a Man with the same host, DeRay Davis. On the show, celebrities help female contestants guess how men answered questions on women and relationships. GSN is owned by Sony and DirecTV.
Sony is pitching the show as a Family Feud companion in prime access and daytime, but also for some latenight slots, according to sources.
Debmar-Mercury is developing What’s My Line with production studio FremantleMedia North America, but have not yet shopped it to stations, according to broadcast sources.
A spokesperson for Debmar-Mercury had no comment on What’s My Line.
Debmar-Mercury also partners with FremantleMedia on Feud and Celebrity. FremantleMedia, incidentally, is at the international marketplace MIPCOM in Cannes this week, pitching a new primetime network TV version of the classic game show To Tell the Truth.
Broadcasters see game shows as alternatives for off-net sitcoms, which are in short supply. Next fall, only a few of network TV’s modest hits will make it to syndication, notably Warner Bros.’ 2 Broke Girls.
“With the success of Family Feud, stations are looking for shows that they can pair with it or shows that they can put adjacent to sitcom blocks that have similar, if not the same, audience appeal,” says Bill Carroll, VP and director of programming at Katz Television Group.
“Much like Family Feud and, hopefully Celebrity Name Game, we think of game as something to hang laughs on,” says Bill Butler, VP of programming and promotion at Sinclair Broadcast Group. “It is funny more than it is a game. We call this genre first-run funny.”
Feud is the model for “first-run funny.” That show has surged past CBS Television Distribution’s Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy to No. 1 among adults 18-49 and adults 25-54. The show has been on an upswing since comedian Steve Harvey took over as host in 2010.
The week of Sept. 22, Feud was No. 1 with a 1.7 adults 18-49 rating, compared to Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, which were tied with a 1.2. Disney-ABC’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire and Celebrity each had a 0.5 rating.
Feud was also No. 1 among adults 25-54 with a 2.1 to Wheel’s 1.8, Jeopardy’s 1.7, Millionaire’s 0.7 and Celebrity’s 0.6.
Another game, this one a sure bet to move forward, is Monopoly Millionaires’ Club, a weekly one-hour show hosted by comedian and Mike & Molly actor Billy Gardell. It’s from Scientific Games and will debut in February to tie in with the new multi-state lottery, also called Monopoly Millionaires’ Club.
Former NBCUniversal executive Barry Wallach is handling distribution for the show, which has so far been cleared in 95% of lottery TV homes, including on stations owned by Tribune, Sinclair and Hearst.
“Our stations are pretty excited about the show,” says Sean Compton, president of strategic programming and acquisitions at Tribune Media. “Any time you can get a weekend show that is exclusive to broadcast, it is a good thing. It’s going to occupy really good time periods on our stations.”
For Monday through Friday, broadcasters may be looking for a replacement not only for Celebrity, but also for Disney-ABC’s long-running Millionaire. That show has been renewed on stations only through this season.
Millionaire debuted this season with a new host, Terry Crews, who took over from Cedric the Entertainer, who hosted for only one season after Meredith Vieira left to start her NBCUniversal Domestic Television Distribution talk show.
But the new talent hasn’t helped. The week of Sept. 22, Millionaire’s rating among adults 18-49 was down year to year while it was flat among adults 25-54.
If opportunities arise, syndicators could dust off some game-show projects. They include CBS Television Distribution’s Hollywood Squares and NBCUniversal’s Hollywood Game Night.