Insights

Competitive Landscape of a Competitive Genre: US Demand for Game Shows

7 September, 2020

Game shows have been an iconic part of the American TV landscape for years. This genre has created many iconic and long lasting series in the US market including Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune, and The Price is Right. However, the below data suggests that despite the name recognition and longevity of several series in this genre, the overall category of game shows has struggled to perform above average in the US. We investigate further below.

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Over the past 3 years, the demand trend for game shows has been trending upward, but not dramatically so. The recent struggles of game shows due to COVID-19 production restrictions can be seen here, where demand for these shows has slumped so far this year. Rotating contestants and live audiences are a fixture in this genre. Both are impractical with social distancing measures, so the supply of new episodes has been cut off. Demand has been muted since the beginning of the year and recently has tapered off even further. Jeopardy! ran out of unreleased episodes on June 12th so has been airing reruns since then.

Despite the slight upward trend in US demand for this genre, the average series here has largely lagged behind the average overall series demand. Looking at the distribution of game shows below makes clear what is driving this result. The vast majority of these shows do not register above average demand, and a select few are standout hits.

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In the past year, the only game show with more than 10x the average series demand was Jeopardy!. This indicates that it is a challenge for a game show to stand out and attract significant demand. However for those series that can distinguish themselves, a winning show in this genre can pay huge dividends. Many of the most successful shows here have been running for decades. The nature of this format is such that bringing in new contestants each episode keeps things fresh and audiences engaged. Jeopardy! exemplifies this. Despite originally airing in 1964, the series is still the most in demand game show in 2020 registering over 30 times the demand for the average series in the past year.

Below are the most in-demand game shows in the US for the past year.

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The top game shows in the US for the past year represent an interesting mix of different formats, old and new series, and a handful of international shows in addition to US origin game shows. The top series, Jeopardy!, is no surprise, but the second most demanded game show is a Korean series, Running Man. This import beat out American game show stalwarts Family Feud and The Price is Right. Also among the top series is the Korean game show Busted!. The success of Korean game shows in the US market could signal further opportunities to import these shows to the US or even adapt an American version.

Naked Attraction is the sole British game show among the top series. Without a doubt this risqué series featuring full frontal nudity has piqued the interest of American audiences, generally faced with stricter TV censorship standards.

The US version of The Chase, originally a British series, attracted nearly 3 times the average demand in the US despite having ended in 2015. It has been announced that the series is being revived on ABC with Ken Jennings, James Holzhauer, and Brad Rutter – all noted Jeopardy! champions - in talks to star. Leveraging Jeopardy’s success by recruiting its biggest winners combined with the lasting popularity of the US version of The Chase points to a successful relaunch of this show. Particularly if it launches following an absence of new game show episodes due to COVID-19, this series could really take off and be the next US game show hit.

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