Wednesday, March 9, 2016

GSN’s Upfront 2016 Recap

GSN held its annual upfront presentation yesterday morning in at the Paley Center for Media in New York City to unveil the network’s approach to its 2016 slate of programming. Last year’s upfront was highlighted with the renewals of The Chase, Skin Wars and Idiotest, the announcement of new arrivals including Chain Reaction, Hellevator and Lie Detectors, and the network’s revamped logo. Among the announcements made this year by GSN were the introduction of Donald Faison as the host of the new audience participation game show Winsanity, the return of Idiotest, Skin Wars and Hellevator, and a roster of pilots and upcoming series slated to air later this year.

Among the confirmed shows returning for another season are Idiotest and Hellevator. According to Ben Gleib’s social media post, the 40-episode third season order of Idiotest has been filmed and is set to premiere on April 12 with Glib now credited as an executive producer. These new episodes will feature more themes and rivalries including an all nude show, a 70s throwback show, three kids shows, students vs. teachers and five celebrity shows. Additionally, Gleib will be partnering with PopSugar to create and host a series spinoff called Political Idiotest, where two political pundits compete in a series of tests which segues to mini-political conversations. The spinoff will also air in April and the episodes will be shot the same day they will broadcasted so the news will always be current.

Hellevator returns this fall for its second season with “The Twisted Twins” Jen and Sylvia Soska pulling the strings from behind the scenes. The upcoming season is being packaged as a special four-episode Halloween event. After kicking off the series with over 503,000 and 430,000 viewers tuning into the first two episodes, the show never regained that terrific momentum and plummeted to the low 200Ks for the remainder of the season. Let’s hope Hellevator performs better later this year.

Unsurprisingly, Skin Wars has also been renewed by the network. The third season premieres April 20 at 10:00pm with host Rebecca Romijn and featured judge RuPaul Charles returning to give body painters a chance to win $100,000. Speaking of body painters, Skin Wars revealed the contestants who will be competing on the show this season yesterday. Check out a quick glimpse of them in the clip below.

New For 2016 And Beyond
Besides Winsanity, Skin Wars: Fresh Paint and Window Warriors are two of the other new series that are set to debut this year. Also listed below are some of the other projects GSN is contemplating on adding to its current roster of original programming.

Host: Donald Faison
Producers: Barry Poznick (Barracuda Television Productions) and Chris Grant (Electus)
Episodes: 40
Duration: 30 minutes
Format: Contestants attempt to rank ten facts in numerical order from highest to lowest. Each correct answer wins the contestant and a section of the studio audience a prize and a incorrect answer wipes out the contestant’s and the audience section’s winnings and a new contestant takes their place and continue the game.

Skin Wars: Fresh Paint
Host: RuPaul Charles
Judges: Emma Cammack and Mat Gleason
Producers: Michael Levitt (Michael Levitt Productions), Jill Goularte, Kate Kenny and RuPaul Charles
Episodes: 8
Duration: 60 minutes
Format: Each week, some of Skin Wars’ top former contestants will mentor six highly accomplished artists and help them win $10,000 by competing in a body painting challenge. 

Window Warriors
Host: TBA
Producers: Michael Levitt (Michael Levitt Productions) and Jill Goularte
Episodes: 6
Duration: 60 minutes
Format: Contestants compete to exhibit their visual merchandising skills in hopes of winning the show’s top prize of a full-time job and contract to design a high-profile holiday display at a major department store.

Pilot Light
Breaking App (Working Title)
Producers: Brien Meagher and Rhett Bachner (B17 Entertainment) and Cheri Brownlee (Cheri Sundae Productions)
Duration: TBA
Format: Aspiring app designers pitch their inspiring ideas for mobile phone apps to a panel of tech moguls and venture capitalists who are looking to invest. The panel and home viewers will be able to download and play with the app to judge whether or not it will be the next breakout hit. 

The Investigation (Working Title)
Producers: Stephen Land and Allison Wallach (Jupiter Entertainment)
Duration: 60 minutes
Format: The game is set in a realistic police location with multiple departments. Two teams of “detectives” examine evidence in each department to compile a case against the lead suspect who is believed to be the murderer. The first team to submit the most accurate pieces of incriminating evidence to the DA wins $10,000.

Under Construction: Shows In Development
Producers: John de Mol and Jay Bienstock (Talpa)
Duration: 60 minutes 
Format: Three strangers must come to an unanimous agreement on every aspect of the show including answers to questions and how to split the prize money at the end of each episode.
Notes: Divided originally debuted in the Netherlands on July 6, 2008. Since then, 13 countries have adapted the format including Afghanistan, Denmark, India and the UK. To get a glimpse of how the game is played, take a look at the first round and end game from the 2009-10 ITV version.

Run & Buzz
Producers: TBA; Based on the international format from Newen Distribution
Duration: 30 minutes
Format: Three teams of two listen to clues that lead to the identity of the correct answer and run to the opposite end of the studio to answer the question. The winning team will have a chance to sprint to the final round for the top cash prize.
Notes: This sounds a lot like The Whole 19 Yards.

Glass Wars
Producers: Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz (Magical Elves)
Format: Some of the country’s best glassblowers compete to showcase their best works of art under intense pressure to be named the best in their craft.

"If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It"
While some networks are considering new approaches and directions to garner more viewers, GSN is "going to be doing more of the same", announced David Goldhill, president and CEO of GSN, during Tuesday's presentation. "We are growing at a very difficult time," said Goldhill alluding to GSN growing during primetime with original show while linear ratings are failing for many broadcast and cable networks. "We have double-digit growth across all key demos." He continued to note that 60 percent of the network's new viewers last year were under the age of 50. GSN's median viewer age has fallen to 59 over the past five years.

While classic game show fans (including myself, from time to time) continue to pine and whine for the "good ol' days" of Game Show Network when it had originally aired classic, rarely-seen reruns, you can't deny that GSN's recent success is attributed to its demographic shift in focus to gain more younger viewers, which led to the network doubling its original programming output over the past three years. It's no surprise to see the network stay the course given their recent success. We'll see how the returning and new shows will fare among viewers this year and if shows like The Chase and Chain Reaction will be renewed by the network.

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