2016: Game Shows Are Back!

game show hosts 2016
These game shows are all returning this year. courtesy ABC, GSN, and Debmar-Mercury

Game shows, as a genre, seem to go in and out of fashion on a regular basis. The good news for fans though is that, as of early 2016, they appear to be on an upswing. Though you might think that this is happening suddenly, this resurgence has been in the making for some time.

Daytime Game Shows and Syndies

Daytime and syndicated game shows have been hobbling along forever, some doing much better than others.

What we're seeing now is that even those whose numbers are down are getting renewed, and those who have recently debuted are sticking around. For example:

  • Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune - Both of Sony's signature game shows have been renewed through 2017-2018, so they'll be with us for a couple more seasons yet. These games both have had solid ratings since they began.
  • Family Feud - The Feud has been gaining viewers, slowly and steadily, for years now. Steve Harvey provides great sound bites which appeal to a younger audience, which is just what the show needed.
  • The Price is Right and Let's Make a Deal - These two CBS daytime staples are both running smoothly, though TPIR will always have a larger and more devoted audience.
  • Who Wants to Be a Millionaire - Though Millionaire has been losing viewers for years, and the departure of Meredith Vieira certainly didn't help, the show has been renewed for another season (2016-17), giving new host Chris Harrison a chance to re-establish their audience.
  • Celebrity Name Game - Celebrity Name Game got off to a bit of a rocky start, but the powers that be have shown faith in this one and it's been renewed through 2017.

So that takes care of the dailies -- all of which will be around at least for another year or two. These are basically the foundation of the genre, and since things are looking good here, other areas are starting to see improvement as well.

Returning Shows

There are a few fledgling game shows that debuted in 2014 and 2015 that could have gone either way as far as renewal, which others are going strong. Based largely on the success of 2015's summer game show offerings, we're going to see several of these programs returning this year. They include:

  • Hollywood Game Night - The combination of games that you can play along with at home and a revolving door of actual celebrity contestants has made HGN a success. The show is currently in its fourth season, and there's no reason to think it won't be back for a fifth.
  • Idiotest - GSN's Idiotest is fun, goofy, and easy to play along with, and has earned the network a good bump in viewership. The show skews younger than much of their other fare which is one of the reasons that it will be back.
  • Monopoly Millionaire's Club - Even though the show has scaled back to a half-hour format (from its first season's hour-long episodes), MMC is currently airing season number two. It may or may not return, but it's done better than most of us expected it to.
  • Celebrity Family Feud - The star-studded version of Family Feud has run a few times over the years and it's usually fun to watch, but last summer's run exceeded expectations for ABC. As a result, Steve Harvey and a group of celebrity families will be back to duke it out for charity this summer.
  • BattleBots - You can argue that BattleBots isn't really a game show per se, but it's still tons of fun and we're including it here because of the competition aspect. BB returned to ABC last summer after a hiatus, and it also did well with viewers. It'll be back this summer too.
  • 500 Questions - 500 Questions didn't burn up the ratings chart, but it did show enough promise that we'll be seeing a somewhat different version of the show this year. There will be a new host and hopefully enough questions to warrant the title.

New Game Shows

Based on how well these shows have done, networks both large and small are offering up a bunch of new game shows this year as well. The smaller networks see them as inexpensive ways to create many hours of original programming, and the larger ones see them as good "filler" programs for the summer and whenever their 'regular' programming is between seasons.

It's still early in the year, but already there are a number of new games for 2016. Some of these include:

  • The $100,000 Pyramid - Hosted by Michael Strahan, the Pyramid is a highly anticipated remake that will air on ABC this summer. Apparently the game itself will not change from the original, and ten episodes are planned.
  • To Tell the Truth - Originally slated to air last summer, this revival will also air on ABC and will be hosted by Anthony Anderson.
  • Easiest Game Show Ever - The first original game show from Pop TV (formerly the TV Guide Channel), Easiest Game Show Ever premiered on January 22nd. It's hosted by Michael Ian Black.
  • WinSanity - This is a GSN original that will be hosted by Donald Faison. 40 episodes are slated to air sometime this year, and the game combines contestant performance with audience participation.
  • Heads Up - Based on the recurring segment from Ellen Degeneres' talk show, Heads Up will air on HLN and be hosted by Loni Love.
  • Separation Anxiety - Hosted by comedian Iliza Shlesinger, this one is a relationship-based game that's set to air on TBS.
  • QuizUp America - NBC snagged the rights to this one, which is based on the popular trivia app QuizUp. It'll pit contestants against viewers, though there aren't many more details available yet.
  • The Wall - Also coming to NBC, The Wall is like a trivia-based game of Plinko. Ten episodes are ordered with Chris Hardwick as host, though no date has been set for a premiere yet.
  • You're Back in the Room - FOX tends to like the more off-the-wall game show formats, so it's no surprise that You're Back in the Room landed there. It's based on a British format in which the contestants are hypnotized before challenged to complete fairly simple tasks.

    There are some other titles being tossed around, and some shows that we're waiting to hear about as far as renewal goes. So the lists above are by no means definitive. But I think you can see the trend that's happening here!

    All it takes is one game show to break out and grab viewers in the way that the original Who Wants to Be a Millionaire did (or, a little more recently, prime time Deal or No Deal exploded) to spawn even more, so keep your fingers crossed that one of these game shows will be a huge hit.