The waning popularity of Game Shows on TV

Game shows have been part and parcel of daytime television schedules since the 1950s.

In this day and age competition is still strong as broadcast companies go head-to-head in search for the winning formula that is going to capture the imagination of the public but they face extra challenges in this multimedia world. Besides that, online gambling has been all the rage; considering how players get the best bonus for tournaments.

The large number of channels and the boom enjoyed by streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon means viewers are now spoiled for choice, and when you include video games and other games that can be accessed by mobile phone apps the opportunities seem endless.

Betting and gambling is on the rise in Uganda and there are a growing number of online casinos that can lure people in with the chance to play for real money in real time. Traditional casino slots are becoming increasingly more ‘gamey’ with the new phenomenon of Crazy Time resembling a game show feel, meaning there might not be as much appetite for the typical TV shows.

Like a game show, Crazy Time is a casino game and is filmed in a colourful studio with a live host that the players can see. There is a large spinning wheel in the main game where players get to bet on four numbers – 1, 2, 5 and 10 – and/or on the bonus game. It takes you on a journey with the four bonus rounds being a standout feature that adds a different dynamic to most casino games.

There have always been links between casino games and TV game shows – think of how roulette has inspired the Wheel of Fortune and The Price is Right with its spinning wheel and coloured pockets, and more recently Red or Black, the most expensive game show in TV history.

The history of game shows on TV can be traced back to the 1930s with the BBC airing Spelling Bee as the first one in the UK in 1938.

It was the advent of commercial TV when it took off though as ITV came onto the scene and looked to replicate of the success of shows in the USA, where the concept of live studio audiences started with shows like ‘I Love Lucy’ and ‘Jeopardy’ to add an extra element.


Take Your Pick was the first show to offer cash prizes, while The $64,000 Question (also known as Double Your Money) and the popular Beat The Clock were imported from across the Atlantic.

The invention of colour TVs led to more diverse programmes and the BBC attempted to catch up with their rivals by introducing The Generation Game, which drew a record audience for a TV game show of 23.9million in 1979 according to Boxtree’s 40 Years of Television.

However, according to the BFI the biggest ratings for a TV game show came from Sale of the Century when it attracted 21.1m viewers in 1978.

In fact the 70s and 80s were a golden era for game shows such as Blankety Blank and Mastermind also attracted huge audiences and the increase of consumerism led to shows like The Price is Right coming onto the UK scene from the US.

The advent of reality TV in the 90s saw a decline in audiences for game shows, although the arrival of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? in 1998 with the highest prize available on TV did reignite the flame.

Talent shows such as Pop Idol, Pop Stars, Britain’s Got Talent and the X-Factor were popular in the 2000s as some classic game shows disappeared but the likes of Family Fortunes, The Krypton Factor and Catchphrase have been revived, while shows like The Chase and Pointless are popular without bringing in the prime time viewing figures of the past.

So, will game shows now gradually fade away now as the online gambling market grows or will that actually prove the inspiration for the next big TV show?

Given how Crazy Time is capturing the imagination of online casino players, a similar formula could be the new lease of life broadcast companies are looking for in the hunt for the next big thing.

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