Follow TV Tropes


Screwed By The Network / Game Shows

Go To

Game shows Screwed by the Network.

  • Examples from Disney-owned networks, including ABC, Freeform, and A&E Networks, can be seen on their separate page.
  • Examples for Nickelodeon game shows can be seen here.

In general:

  • Many daytime game shows whose network was run by Fred Silverman. note  Not surprising, as Silverman actually openly hated game shows, feeling that they were a waste of time and not as entertaining as scripted programming. Never mind that game shows are generally cheaper to produce than scripted programming, and might have helped NBC during its ratings doldrums when it was spending money left and right on scripted fare and the 1980 Summer Olympics. That money didn't come back when the Jimmy Carter-ordered boycott on the 1980 Olympics forced it off of NBC's schedule and the rut claimed Silverman's career with the firm and his A-list executive career.
    • The Hollywood Squares was enjoying the highest ratings for a daytime game show but then NBC president and CEO Silverman wanted it gone, ostensibly because he passed on it while vice president of CBS and hated how big of a hit it became. In its last two years on the air, Silverman enacted his revenge by shuffling its timeslot in an effort to confuse viewers. He finally canned it in June 1980 along with Chain Reaction and High Rollers to make room for a 90-minute talk show hosted by David Letterman... which flopped after four months. The same shuffling very nearly killed Wheel of Fortune as well, but its cancellation was overturned — and in doing so, it eventually got popular enough to gain the syndicated version which remains on air well into The New '20s. As for Silverman, his bosses at NBC corporate parent RCA ultimately got fed up with his mistakes and finally sacked him and replaced him with Grant Tinker... who, coincidentally, had previously known Merv Griffin back when he previously worked at NBC as a junior programming executive during the mid-1960's, and, in fact, had previously persuaded Mort Werner, then the network's senior vice president of programming and talent, to greenlight Griffin's other best known creation, Jeopardy!, which itself gained a syndicated revival around the same time as Wheel's.
    • Advertisement:
    • The NBC version of Card Sharks aired at 10:00 AM and was pulling in commendable ratings for its slot. To accommodate Letterman's show, it was moved it to Noon where many local affiliates chose to pre-empt it for newscasts. Card Sharks was cancelled fifteen months later.
    • Break the Bank (1976) was another prime daytime example. It was #3 in all of daytime but Silverman, who helmed ABC at the time, canned it after just 15 weeks to expand two soap operas by 15 minutes. Tsk, tsk, tsk...
    • Silverman screwed over the original version of Password which had been losing viewers to Days of Our Lives on NBC and The Newlywed Game on ABC. When he was vice president of daytime programming at CBS, Silverman wanted the show permanently moved from New York to Television City. An argument ensued with Mark Goodson and Bill Todman and the show was terminated.
    • Advertisement:
    • Around the same time, Silverman likely had an influence on CBS cancelling their entire prime time game show lineup when the 1966-67 season came to a close, even though prime time programming was technically outside of his responsibilities. CBS axed To Tell the Truth, a nighttime version of Password, I've Got a Secret and What's My Line? without warning, claiming that game shows were no longer suitable for prime time hours. Bennett Cerf found out about What's My Line getting cancelled through The New York Times. The daytime version of To Tell the Truth survived another season before getting the ax itself.
    • Amusingly, several years later, when Silverman was promoted to vice president of programming at CBS, he and Goodson-Todman eventually patched up their differences and Silverman green lit several game shows from Goodson-Todman on CBS's daytime schedule, such as revivals of The Price Is Right and Match Game as well as two new shows called Tattletales, which itself was actually a loose revival of He Said, She Said, and Now You See It. This continued on when Silverman moved to ABC, when Silverman brought Family Feud and The Better Sex to the network. It finally came full circle at NBC, when Silverman green lit a revival of Password titled Password Plus, as well as three new shows, the aforementioned Card Sharks; Blockbusters; and Mindreaders.
  • Advertisement:
  • The Wheel of Fortune/Jeopardy! combo as well as the trifecta of The Oprah Winfrey Show, The People's Court, and Entertainment Tonight, were responsible for the mass trampling of syndicated game shows in the mid to late 80s. Family Feud's ratings tanked and was not renewed in 1985 with the daytime version cancelled shortly after. The Joker's Wild and Tic-Tac-Dough, which were already struggling due to unpopular hosting changes, both kicked the bucket in 1986. Already existing shows were moved to unpopular time slots such as late night or the early evening. The Bill Rafferty-hosted revival of Card Sharks was screwed by an affiliate; WABC in New York City originally aired it at 4:00 PM alongside Jeopardy! but moved to the late night hours to accommodate Oprah while Jeopardy! got the juicy 7:00 PM slot. New shows, such as the Tom Kennedy-hosted version of The Price Is Right, the US version of Catchphrase, Wipeout (1988), and many others also suffered this fate.
  • With very rare exception, the syndicated version of Wheel of Fortune has a mandatory time slot of 7:00 or 7:30 PM in the Eastern and Pacific Time Zones and 6:00 or 6:30 PM in the Central and Mountain Time Zones. Because of this, it is often pre-empted by local affiliates that choose to air special programming just before primetime.
    • It also falls victim to sporting events such as March Madness or the World Series that begin coverage at those times, including Thursday Night Football, which begins pregame at 7:30 PM Eastern and aired interchangeably on CBS and NBC from 2014-18, then FOX from 2018-21.
    • In some cases, if sister show Jeopardy! (which does not have any time slot mandates) has its time slot pre-empted instead, some stations will opt to air that show in Wheel's time slot.
    • On NBC affiliates that carry the show, most of them are forced to pre-empt it for at least two weeks straight during the Summer and Winter Olympics. Since 2006, on the East Coast, most NBC affiliates air the program The Olympic Zone at 7:30/6:30 PM Central, which is Wheel's most popular time slot, and in some markets where Jeopardy! is the show affected by this (such as Detroit), the affiliate will either move Jeopardy! to replace Wheel, or they will air additional local Olympic specials in Wheel's slot to avoid having Wheel air with no Jeopardy! to follow it. During the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, Wheel had three $100,000 wins in a row, but many NBC affiliates still chose not to air those episodes despite the media publicity and continuity (the latter being a rarity for Wheel since they got rid of returning champions, and the most common reason affiliates give for prioritizing Jeopardy! broadcasts over Wheel). Some stations that did plan to air these episodes in earlier time slots between Olympic broadcasts were denied permission by Wheel's syndicator, CBS Media Ventures.


  • Of the five series of the BBC's Would I Lie to You?, it has never once held the same timeslot twice; it has bounced from Saturday at 10PM, Friday at 9PM, Monday at 10:30PM, Friday at 10:35PM, Friday at 9:30PM. And it's been announced that Series 6 will be airing before the watershed, at 8:30PM.


  • Match Game flourished at 3:30 PM Eastern, but the network inexplicably moved it to 11:00 AM, following The Price Is Right. Ratings tumbled as several major markets blacked out Match in favor of syndicated fare. Six weeks later, Match was moved to the low-clearance 4:00 PM Eastern spot (previous occupant Tattletales was moved to 10:00 AM and Price to 10:30) where it lived out its tenure to April 1979.
  • The original CBS run of Password became the first hit after the quiz show scandals nearly killed off the game show genre. Then on July 11, 1966, CBS pre-empted the series to cover a press conference by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara regarding the progress of the Vietnam War; as NBC and ABC didn't give their news divisions the same leeway that CBS gave its news division, viewers began defecting to both NBC's recently-debuted Days of Our Lives and the debut of The Newlywed Game on ABC, giving the latter a larger sampling than it likely would've had otherwise. This eventually led to Fred Silverman cancelling it (see above).
    • Much later, CBS screwed Million-Dollar Password by canning it simply because it didn't hit their target demographic, despite the fact that it frequently pulled the highest ratings in its timeslot. (That may have been for the best, though, considering the rather terrible format changes that version had.)
  • CBS also screwed over the American Winning Lines by only airing it Saturday nights with seemingly no consistent timeslot, causing the ratings to plummet.
  • Whew! was an odd example- at first it was doing well, as ABC programmed nothing in the 10:30 AM timeslot and all NBC had to offer was the short-lived All-Star Secrets. But as part of Fred Silverman's plan to shut down The Hollywood Squares (see above), it got shuffled to 10:30 and promptly started beating Whew! to a pulp. CBS' daytime department realized NBC was playing dirty and asked the promotional people for more advertising. They said no, and as a result, even the show going into a full-time Celebrity Edition didn't help, and the show expired unfairly.

Channel Four:

  • This is thought to be the cause of Carol Vorderman's 2008 departure from British game Countdown: when the show's budget was going to be cut by 33%, Vorderman was willing to take a 33% salary cut as well...except Channel Four allegedly went up to her and said what boiled down to "We're going to take off a trailing zero from your salary next year. Take it or leave it, you have two days to respond." Note that Vorderman's about as famous in Britain as Vanna White is in America, as she was on Countdown from its 1982 debut.


  • After the success of Family Double Dare, FOX ordered a second season of 13 episodes. However, according to host Marc Summers, FOX executives wanted to do themed episodes such as Playboy Playmates vs. Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. President of Nickelodeon Gerry Laybourne balked at this idea, and the show walked out.
  • The Chamber got screwed by FOX as it was rushed to air ahead of time to compete with ABC's The Chair and ended up getting labeled a rip-off as a result (it's unknown which show began production first)... and then FOX canned it after only airing half of the six shows taped. (Then again, considering how the show was pretty much televised torture, perhaps someone at Fox realized it was a bad idea?)
  • FOX screwed over both Greed and It's Your Chance of a Lifetime because the then-current network president hated game shows. Chance got it the worst because it was barely advertised, and what little advertisement there was only appeared mere days before the show was due to air. Chance was supposed to become a regular weekly series, contestants were being interviewed and everything, and FOX just pulled the plug for no reason whatsoever. Full details here.

Game Show Network/GSN:

  • Quite a few Game Show Network/GSN originals. The typical formula for an original game here: A) introduce it with some fanfare, B) constantly jack its timeslot around, C) show a metric buttload of reruns while the show's still making new episodes, D) announce the new seasons rarely if at all, and E) gradually stop making new episodes. Small wonder that, out of all of their original programming dating back to the late 1990s, Lingo was one of the only ones to be a bona-fide hit...and even that was a revival.
    • Perhaps the most notorious example came in 2004 when the network, which had previously been known on-air as Game Show Network, decided to try to appeal to a younger demographic by changing its programming up with dozens of non-game show-related series, including Kenny vs. Spenny, the unsurprisingly short-lived Fake-a-Date and Vegas Weddings Unveiled, and various blackjack/poker games. In the ensuing change-up, all of the network's original programming that wasn't named Lingo was canceled. Said original programming, which included Friend or Foe, Russian Roulette, and a revival of Press Your Luck, were some of the network's most popular programs, and likely would have gone on for more seasons had GSN not screwed them (and, in effect, themselves) over.


  • After a disastrous pilot, series creator Bob Stewart persuaded reluctant NBC execs to give The Price Is Right at least 13 weeks on the air. The network, evidently having zero faith in the program, put it on at 10:30 AM against CBS' Arthur Godfrey Time, then one of the biggest things on television. A month later, Price was moved to 11AM against the second half of Godfrey's hour-long show. note  Despite this and several negative reviews early on, Price beat Godfrey in the ratings by the end of those initial 13 weeks and remained a powerhouse for much of the next seven years.
  • The nighttime Price flourished Wednesdays at 8:30 PM, making it the top-rated primetime game show. In September 1961, the sponsors wanted to tinker with it, so NBC moved the show to Mondays at 8:30. Ratings slid, so a year later the show was moved up an hour to 9:30 PM...opposite The Andy Griffith Show. Price hemorrhaged ratings, so on February 1, 1963 it was moved to Fridays at 9:30. NBC wanted a show that attracted a younger audience than Price sponsors wanted, so they optioned the sitcom Harry's Girls to replace Price that Fall.
    • ABC stepped in and acquired both versions of Price for an amount NBC wasn't willing to match, although the move was costly as ABC couldn't afford either version in color and not every market had an ABC affiliate (48 markets aired Price on their CBS station).
  • The 2000 revival of 21 was performing quite well, yet it was abruptly canned out of nowhere for no reason, and the finale wasn't even advertised.
  • NBC head Lin Bolen became the enemy of fans for her insistence on ousting games hosted by middle-aged men on technologically-obsolete sets.
    • In 1973, as CBS' Price Is Right reboot was trouncing it, she refused to move the original Concentration from being its competitor. note 
    • In 1974, she killed the three-year-old Bob Stewart game Three on a Match, which had done respectably in the 1:30 PM timeslot that had been a revolving door after Monty Hall took Let's Make a Deal to ABC in December 1968. The replacement, Winning Streak, was a failure.
    • Once TOAM ended, Bolen moved Jeopardy! to the 1:30 slot, causing it to lose a good portion of its audience. In one of the biggest aversions of this trope, in exchange for ending Merv Griffin's show a year before the contract stated, the remainder of said contract was given to the culmination of over a year's development and Bolen putting her job on the line - Wheel of Fortune.
  • The NBC version of Dream House ran against the second half of The Price Is Right and was holding its ground, being the third-highest rated game show at one point. However, the series was replaced by Scrabble which would go onto run for six years. To make matters worse, Scrabble took over its time slot and stayed there for the first three years.
  • The American version of The Weakest Link proved to be a big hit upon its premiere, but the second season saw the series collapse in a ratings freefall in the aftermath of 9/11. In an effort to bring the ratings back up, NBC produced "celebrity" episodes for the third season featuring personalities rather than standard contestants. The gambit backfired horribly on the network, leading to its cancellation.

Challenge (UK)

Challange tends to be really bad at this, as they usually classify any show that's not named The Chase as this, especially after 2015:
  • Timeline was this. The channel gave the show a lot of promotion and advertising. However, Sky placed it in a 9pm slot to rival other shows although the tone of the series didn't really fit it's timeslot. because of this, the series didn't do well in the ratings and after the initial 10-episodes had aired in 2014, the show wasn't renewed for another season, with the show being removed entirely in 2015. Challenge has since not commissioned another original game show.
  • In 2015, Countdown was quickly moved from its original 7pm slot to 4pm, and was pulled a few weeks later. It briefly came back in an early morning slot a few months later.
  • Millionaire Hot Seat was treated very similarly to The Chase Australia, only this time it didn’t even get reran.
  • The short-lived BBC One show The Link aired on the channel in 2016 at a 7pm weeknight slot, and never aired again afterwards, being replaced with Family Feud in its timeslot.
  • Even Family Feud got the same treatment. The show was put in the same 7pm weeknight slot. However, at the end of the year, the show was gone from the channel as well.
    • A likely reason was that the episodes had to be heavily edited for watershed purposes, hence the timeslot it was in.
  • When Challenge aired the final seasons of American Ninja Warrior in 2019, they aired them on Sunday mornings without promotion. By the end, it got even worse as it was moved to 4am, and soon removed entirely.
  • The Australian version of The Chase was first shown at 9pm, but after a few weeks, it was moved to 2am, when absolutely nobody was awake. It later received some reruns a few years later before disappearing for good sometime in 2020. In contrast, the original British version is easily their favourite show.

Other Examples

  • Family Game Night was cancelled after its fifth season in 2014 due to Hub Network becoming Discovery Family, though its final episode would air after the rebrand that November.

Alternative Title(s): Game Show