GSN 2017 Upfront Recap

For this year’s upfront presentation, the network decided to streamline the event by forgoing the live annual breakfast upfront session, which featured Rebecca Romijn, RuPaul and Donald Faison last year, and simply honed its focus on discussing statistics that expand beyond gender and age and demographics. Some of the data metrics John Zaccario, executive VP of advertising sales and CMO, paid particular attention to include how GSN has fared against other ad-supported cable channels in the last five years in length of tune and frequency of tune (how long audiences watch the network in one sitting and how often viewers watch). GSN is ranked among the top 10 cable entertainment networks in the A25-54 demo for average spin per buyer in department stores, fast food, mass merchandiser, physical retail stores and wireless. Listed below are a couple more noteworthy statistical highlights concerning the network’s performance.

  • Added about 15 million new viewers in 2016
  • GSN original received more than 33 million social engagements in 2016 (83% rise vs. 2015)
  • Primetime Length of Tune (2012-2016): Up 54% in A25-54 (vs. 31% rise all among ad-supported cable); Up 60% in A18-49 (vs. 33% rise among all ad-supported cable)
  • Frequency of Tune (2012-2016): Up 1% in A25-54 (vs. 31% drop among ad-supported cable); Down 3% in A18-49 (vs. 34% drop among ad-supported cable)

These stats show GSN’s ability to hold their audiences and keep them tuned in, perhaps thanks to the addition of Family Feud reruns from the Harvey era and the consistent success of GSN originals including Skin Wars, Idiotest and (before its cancellation) The Chase

More Interactivity With Home Viewers

GSN also highlights the importance of broadening its scope of home viewer interactivity once more with new options. The channel has partnered with Megaphone TV to develop interactive TV and mobile quiz games where players could play games and win prizes while watch some of their favorite shows. Zaccario elaborates by stating, “When we do it in-show, the content that we’ll push through the device will be related to what’s going on in the show, but not completely synced. That’s the mistake we’ve made in the past; we’ve tried to sync the questions or the challenges that the contestant was getting on television, and it’s tough to get the timing down.” Some of the past mistakes Zaccario could be referring to may be related to Winsanity’s online game and  GSN.com’s interactive play-along game during the early and mid 2000s when home viewers could play an online version of the show they were watching and potentially win prizes based on how many points they earned. 

(Re)New(ed) Programming

Starting with the returning series, the controversial, verbally combative game show Divided is scheduled to return for a second season this summer. As divisive, dramatic and downright unpleasant it is to watch this show at times, it is unsurprising to see the Mike Richards-hosted series given a second season order considering its respectably stable ~378,000 average performance on Thursday – and more recently, Wednesday – nights thus far this season. 

Speaking of ratings, Winsanity has also been renewed for a second season. Although I had nervously predicted the show would return in my review, this comes as a bit of a shock considering the network abruptly moved new episodes to an early morning 1:00am time slot and whose ratings once plummeted to a measly 189,000 and 194,000 total viewers on a couple of occasions. Winsanity returns with Donald Faison as host and a brand new format.

Finally, Ben Gleib and Idiotest will return for a fifth season. Idiotest has served as the cornerstone of GSN’s original primetime programming lineup since its arrival in 2014. We will more than likely see more unique rivalry matchups and specials including celebrities and kids competing against each other in their respective episodes. As the season five approaches, Idiotest is one year away from tying Lingo (6) as the longest-running original series in GSN history. 

Moving on to new game shows in development, Emogenius is scheduled to air in June and puts contestants’ emoji-solving and decoding abilities to the ultimate test. The show will be hosted by AwesomenessTV’s Hunter March from. The network also has the following shows in the works:

  • D.I. Why? (working title): Contestants compete to complete challenges based on DIY videos
  • The Tower: Combines trivia with classic tile-matching puzzle games
  • Blast Your Past (working title): Three celebrities compete against each other and stroll down memory lane while hilariously reminiscing about their awkward childhoods to win money for their selected charities. Executive produced by Andy Cohen.
  • Pointless: Similar to the BBC game show, teams attempt to score the least amount of points by giving the most obscure answers to general knowledge survey questions. (Think of it as the antithetical version of Family Feud.)
GSN is also attempting to capitalize off of the recent success of primetime network game shows by acquiring the rights to air reruns of NBC’s Hollywood Game Night. It looks like GSN is quickly gaining traction and will be looking to build off of their impressive growth within the next rollout of original shows to come. Two of the best recent additions the network has made in the past few months were the weekday inclusion of Cash Cab reruns and the GSN Now app, which enables viewers to watch their favorite game shows on their mobile device. The game show I am looking forward to the most is Emogenius, premiering this summer. I can envision this show somewhat mirroring what James Corden does with his Emoji News segments and create puzzles featuring famous catch phrases, names, places and other subjects. I can’t wait to see how they execute this concept.
Sources: AdWeek, Multichannel News, YouTube
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