A Game Show gimmick to allows home players to play the game, generally played during ratings sweeps periods, and usually by sending in postcards in the 1950s through the 1980s, calling a 900 number in the 1990s, and going to the show's Web site in the current era. Generally the host will offer an easy first question, with harder questions to come.
For a variant which consists of audience-only game play, see Phone-in Game Shows.
Game Shows that featured Home Participation Sweepstakes:
- Both Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune offered phone games in the 1980s, played over a touch-tone phone. Wheel currently offers home viewers chances to win prizes from its "Prize Puzzle" rounds, which features cross-promotion with the Sony Rewards program as well.
- The Challengers
- The 1990s To Tell the Truth featured host Alex Trebek giving away dates with NBC Soap Opera stars to female viewers, one of whom later appeared in the show's "One on One" audience game.
- The Price Is Right: The Bill Cullen era had Showcases as its sweepstakes, where viewers could send in their total bid on a series of prizes to be eligible to win the entire lot.
- The 1972 revival did not immediately have such a sweepstakes, but re-purposed Showcases as the final round for the two remaining in-studio contestants (get closer to your Showcase's price in total than your opponent with theirs without going over to win). By the 1980's, the CBS version would begin holding "Home Viewer Showcase" sweepstakes from time to time, which were done much like their 1960's counterpart. Around the same period, the show also offered "The Phone Home Game", a pricing game where an in-studio and home contestant on the phone could split up to $15,000 in cash.
- The "Win-at-Home" game made an appearance one year into Drew Carey's reign (which involves calling a 1-800 number where you will also allegedly hear "money-saving offers"), and Home Viewer Showcases were also briefly revived as well. A more frequent appearance are promotions for online giveaways tied to certain prizes (especially when something is given away to the entire audience).
- The whole late 1980s/early 1990s NBC game show line-up (back when NBC had a game show line-up) Blockbusters, Classic Concentration, Scrabble, Wheel of Fortune and Win, Lose or Draw would often do combined contests, such as 1987's "Car-razy February".
- When Bob Clayton was the host of Concentration, home viewers' postcards were entered into a drawing. The first letter of a viewer's last name was worth a prize behind the corresponding number on the rebus board.
- Catchphrase encouraged home viewers to submit puzzles drawn on postcards. If your puzzle was used on the show, a Catch Phrase T-shirt would be sent to you.
- Deal or No Deal (The U.S. version) had "The Lucky Case Game". A graphic of five cases would be displayed and people would text which one they thought held money. Texts with the correct case number would be collected and a winner drawn and announced at the end of the broadcast.
- Press Your Luck for a time had a special "Home Viewer Spin". Each contestant had a postcard from a different home viewer. Wherever the board was stopped, that prize or cash amount would be sent to the home viewer. If the board was stopped on a Whammy, the home viewer received a check for $500.
- Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! has several different home listener quizzes, including "Not My Job" where a celebrity will play on behalf of a prechosen listener.
- Chicago Bozo's Circus had the Grand Prize Game, where an audience member tosses ping pong balls into buckets to win prizes. Each player would also be playing for someone at home, whose postcard would be drawn out of the Bozo Drum before the game started. The home "player" would receive the same prizes the in studio player won.
- The original 60s version of The Match Game had a segment late in its run where a random call was made to a viewer in the 48 contiguous states. That caller tried to match a studio audience member on a fill-in-the-blank for a split cash prize. It was revived in a way in 1984 on The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour. In that instance, a phone contestant tried to match answers with a celebrity panelist for a $5000 cash prize and an appearance on an NBC soap opera.