Game Show Expands Lineup, Explores Interactivity4/05/1998 8:00 PM Eastern
Even as it gets ready to debut a new schedule and on-air
look April 18, Game Show Network is talking to companies such as Microsoft Corp. about
taking its interactivity to the next level, according to officials.
In addition to giant Microsoft, Game Show is exploring
interactive opportunities with companies including Intel Corp., Wink Communications and
Web TV Networks, said Jake Tauber, Game Show's senior vice president of programming.
The network seeks to use their technological platforms to permit "massive game
play," meaning more audience participation in the game shows that it airs.
"We're talking to everyone," Tauber said.
"They [companies like Microsoft] realize that the perfect vehicle for the new
technology is game shows. We're positioning ourselves to be ready for any
technological platform, whether it's Web TV or digital set-tops."
Game Show is part of Sony Pictures Entertainment, which is
being merged with Sony Online Ventures Inc. to create a new unit that will focus on
Internet entertainment, Sony Online Entertainment Inc. Game Show will be working with the
new unit -- which has a site called The Station -- on online projects, a network spokesman
Game Show viewers can now win prizes and play along, by
phone, with several shows, including Trivia Track, Super Decades and Final
Jeopardy, which are all original series. "We get 70,000 to 100,000 phone calls a
day," Tauber said.
Beyond interactivity, Game Show is tweaking its schedule
and increasing its commitment to programming. The network, which had some recent major
launches with Comcast Corp. and now reaches 13 million homes, plans to add one original
show a quarter to its lineup, Tauber said.
As part of its schedule changes, Game Show has grouped
shows into blocks, and is then repeating those blocks or "wheels" during the
"This schedule is designed to be more
promotable," said Tauber, a former writer for shows such as Match Game, which
is on the new schedule. "We're creating wheels so viewers can find the
For example, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon Game
Show will run Family Feud, Tic Tac Dough, Joker's Wild, Card
Sharks, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! That same three-hour block will
repeat from noon to 3 p.m., Tauber said.
As part of the changes, on Sundays Game Show will be airing
a block of vintage black-and-white What's My Line?, I've Got A Secret
and To Tell The Truth shows from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., repeated from 9 p.m. to 10:30
Those classic shows include some very well-known, and
sometimes unexpected, guests and panelists, according to Tauber -- including such
celebrities as Barbra Streisand, Woody Allen and Ronald Reagan.
Game Show will also be moving some of its weekend
kids' shows to earlier time slots. The original show Jep!, for example, will
be running at 9:30 a.m. and again at 11:30 a.m., Saturday and Sunday. Currently, it just
airs at 11:30 a.m. both days.
The network's on-air look is getting a revamping by
Los Angeles-based ad agency Pittard Sullivan.
"We want to create an environment that matches the
existing programming," Tauber said. "The new look is very colorful, very
engaging and very hip."
In terms of original programming, Game Show has a dozen
shows in development. Over the next year, Game Show will add four new half-hour shows to
"Our goal each year is to add two hours of first-run
programming to the schedule," Tauber said.
One of the shows in development is based on a series now on
in Europe, in which an announcer asks several contestants question after question.
"It's as pure a game show as ever existed," Tauber said.
Another show, Faux Pause, is slated to go on the
schedule this spring or summer. It entails two comedic actors in a studio making comments
while watching "B-game shows," according to Tauber.
"It's a way to repurpose some of this [game show]
library," he added.
Game Show has access to the libraries of Merv Griffin
Enterprises, Chuck Barris Productions and Bob Stewart Productions, among others.