Make your own free website on Tripod.com

S T E V E
N E W S
T A P E S
G S N
H O M E

I've Heard
That Song!


Video Village

Name That Tune

Password

Password
Plus


Wheel

Jeopardy

Rock 'n' Roll Jeopardy

Hollywood Squares

Price Is Right (CBS)

Price Is Right Site

What's My Line?

Win Ben Stein's Money

Match Game (Pearson TV)

Match Game Page

What's This Song?

Sale of the Century

Tattletales

Whew!

Concentration

Concentration II

All-Star Blitz

Double Dare

Press Your Luck

College Bowl

Joker's Wild

Headline Chasers

Debt

Whose Line Is It Anyway?

Newlywed Game

Love Connection

Inquizition

To Say the Least

50 Grand Slam

Wordplay

Break the Bank

To Tell the Truth (1990-91)

Make Me Laugh

Change of Heart

PC Games
The Game Show Convention Center
November 25, 1999

CDT




Millionaire Withdrawal

        When I am not updating this site, or teaching broadcasting at a Tennessee university, or hosting my own game show, I am the television voice of one of the nation's most successful NAIA basketball programs. From late March to mid-April, I experience a genuine withdrawal from the hoops mike.
       We may be at Thanksgiving weekend but I am encountering that same type of withdrawal, now that Who Wants to Be a Millionaire is out to lunch again for a couple of months.
       Oh, I know, Greed is around. Come January or February, CBS and NBC will weigh in with their entries into the New Millenium Quiz Sweepstakes. A passel of syndication candidates are being rushed and readied. None of them, my friends, are or will be a phenomenon on the order of WWTBAM.
       As late as a week and a half before the return of WWTBAM, I had telephone conversations with four different game show emcee legends. One of them, my man Tom Kennedy, was sold on Millionaire repeating its summer success but was not convinced we were yet in a true game show renaissance. Another had not seen the show during the summer. Two others were plainly still skeptical of the Regis wrecking crew holding up amidst traditional first-run entertainment on the networks.
       I told them all, along with a few other game show insiders, this show is not only going to duplicate its summer run, it would be the biggest prime time game show hit since the late 1950s. Did I have some sort of crystal ball, one asked? No, but I had a pretty good indicator from one stat.
When I am not updating this site, or teaching broadcasting at a Tennessee university, or hosting my own game show, I am the television voice of one of the nation's most successful NAIA basketball programs. From late March to mid-April, I experience a genuine withdrawal from the hoops mike.
       We may be at Thanksgiving weekend but I am encountering that same type of withdrawal, now that Who Wants to Be a Millionaire is out to lunch again for a couple of months.During the summer, when Millionaire was rummaging through the opposition, the show was not just winning its time period by hairbreadths, like Whose Line Is It Anyway? had the previous summer when the mainline media declared the Drew Carey show a hit. The margin of victory each night for WWTBAM was what told the tale for me. Two-to-one here, three-to-one there.
       This juggernaut has been no less than incredible. Do you realize aside from Roots, which was aired originally in January 1977---outside of a ratings sweep period when networks frontload their heaviest artillery, no single program in network television history has ever dominated the Nielsen top 15 in a single week as has WWTBAM? Batman finished in the top 10 for ABC in its first half-season in 1966 but only delivered two episodes per week and quickly gassed. Same for ABC's multiweekly Peyton Place in the mid-1960s. The first season saw its Tuesday-Thursday combo hit the top 10. Once the show was expanded to three times a week, it slid like a snake.
       The numbers for this November run are far more impressive than those in August. Every network has tossed in some heavyweight material in an effort to bring down this little gathering of two people on bar stools playing a game and all of them have failed. When WWTBAM stood up handsomely opening night to the heavily-touted season premiere of The X-Files on Fox, I saw the sweep coming. Some people insisted once John Carpenter won the $1 million, people would tail off their interest. Baloney. The next night delivered the highest-rated non-sports Saturday rating for ABC in seven years. Sunday night, WWTBAM clipped CBS' wonderful Touched by an Angel by more than five rating points, which has not happened since that series' struggling first season. Monday and Tuesday of the final week have each produced record-breaking half-hour ratings. One even sensed the other networks virtually waving the white flag.
       So, how long can the momentum continue? Plenty. Sure, the day will come when Millionaire is no longer a dominant show, just like The Beverly Hillbillies eventually came back to earth from its untouchable first two seasons. However, that day is not in the immediate horizon, I believe, for at least the game's first two years. How can you tell? Probably if you've been at your office water cooler, your high school ball game, your church social, or your local mall in the last two and a half weeks. People who haven't watched a game on television in years are actually talking about this show and keeping tabs on it. Last week, when we taped six episodes of I've Heard That Song!, virtually every audience member of every age bracket would tease me during the break, "Is that your final answer, Steve?" I wore a WWTBAM baseball shirt to teach my classes one day last week and every student wanted it.
       If you didn't live in the mid-to-late 1950s, you cannot grasp the full perspective of how this is mirroring what happened with The $64,000 Question. The only thing genuinely unlike Question is WWTBAM isn't live and doesn't have isolation booths.
       ABC may be about to take a dangerous course with this show. I have come full circle to the idea of the best scheduling strategy with Millionaire is for the network to keep right on doing what is being done with it. Three weeks every three months will keep a nation intrigued and a two-month hiatus will leave everyone wanting more, building anticipation for the return. CBS, NBC and Fox will be thoroughly frustrated in their attempts to build a traditional sweeps strategy. Yet, the affiliates and advertisers are applying enormous pressure on ABC to make WWTBAM a perpetual multiweek series. The New York Daily News is indicating a scenario already being discussed out loud for three hours a week every week. The network will have an enormous temptation to resist to plunge for even more regular gold. I say stay the course. Keep the nation waiting for more. The audience will be there as long as people want to try their hand to win a million dollars in a creative and entertaining fashion.
When I am not updating this site, or teaching broadcasting at a Tennessee university, or hosting my own game show, I am the television voice of one of the nation's most successful NAIA basketball programs. From late March to mid-April, I experience a genuine withdrawal from the hoops mike.
       One "final answer" to Stu Bloomberg at ABC: follow my advice of the summer. If you want to maximize the kind of numbers and revenues you'll get on Super Bowl Sunday, schedule an hour of Millionaire right after the game in January. No single show you will "preview" for viewers, as has been traditional network strategy, will hold the audience from the football game as will your little question-and-answer game from downtown New York.

       POST-GAME NOTES:: I'll watch for the numbers on Greed from Wednesday night outside of the head-on competition from WWTBAM the last two weeks. I'm pegging a good many switchovers went to Fox after Regis signed off....However, while some improvements have been made, Greed still isn't doing enough to make you care about the contestants. Curtis Warren with his distinctive hair may have been a notable exception. However, I challenge you to tell me how many of those contestants you truly remember the next day....I like the columnists from the New York Daily News but I wholeheartedly disagree with their assessment of Chuck Woolery having a lack of warmth. Chuck is doing a terrific job with Greed and he's good as he ever was. The show itself is just not going to put Chuck in the same light as Millionaire does Regis because Greed is a meaner game and people are going to lose far more often on the Fox game in letdown fashion....I'm thrilled people like Dick Clark, Dick Enberg and Bob Eubanks are on the short list at the networks to get shots at whatever prime time quizzes join the crowd. I also understand the networks' obsession with bringing Phil Donahue back to TV for a hard quiz because Donahue would bring enormous credibility. However, even though I know he considers himself retired, I would love to see a network toss an offer Tom Kennedy's way. Since Regis has kicked open the door again for the seniors, Tom is a long way from too old and I'm convinced he could pull off a major nighttime network game with the same polish and class he always has....John Carpenter's appearance on Regis and Kathie Lee Monday kicked its national rating to a 4.6, the show's top number this year....Without Millionaire, I predict ABC will lose five of the seven remaining nights of the sweeps but still easily lock up first place for the full month.

Column Archive
Back to Homepage

E - M A I L

gameshows@www.com



Family-Approved Site by The Dove Foundation

Allen Ludden
Art James
Wink Martindale
Tom Kennedy
Dennis James
George DeWitt
Jack Narz
Betty White
Jay Wolpert
Game $how Page
Newhoo Games
G.S. Knowledge
Game Show Themes
G.S. Software
GO Games
TV Trivia

GSN Game Show Network Password Plus
The Password Page
I'VE HEARD THAT SONG! ONLINE FRIDAYS


  I've Heard That Song! | Steve Beverly | Name That Tune | Video Village | Password | UBS
UBS News | Password Plus | Gameshow Tapes

Copyright 1999 Steve Beverly. This page last updated July 27, 1999.