Global game shows making the grade

Ratings for Deal or No Deal Canada and Are You Smarter Than A Canadian 5th Grader? are boffo. And Nintendo's Wii is enjoying the high scores for getting into the game.

Good news for CanWest Global and advertisers who are gambling on domesticated game shows. With Are You Smarter Than a Canadian 5th Grader?, the net is once again cashing in on a spinoff – the second hit to emerge from its Canadianized US game shows. The show scored 1.5 million viewers (2+) with its premiere last week – a strong, though second-place, showing opposite CTV’s hit drama Grey’s Anatomy.

The show, hosted by Colin Mochrie, is a remake of the US edition of 5th Grader, which averaged 1.1 million viewers on Global following its spring debut. The Canadian version is made by Toronto’s Insight Productions, which also does Canadian Idol for CTV.

Earlier this year, Global churned out the short-run Deal or No Deal Canada, after the US version premiered in December ’06 to a strong 1.3 million viewers. The Toronto-shot Deal became the highest-rated game show on Canadian television during the 2006/07 season, averaging two million viewers.

Dennis Dinga, VP, director of broadcast buying at Toronto-based M2 Universal, notes that game shows are often tested in the off-season. ‘It’s to give viewers something new to sample while everything else is in repeats. If the test is successful, the series will launch a few months later,’ he says, noting that CBS’s Power of 10, which debuted on Global during the summer, is also expected to return.

Global’s ‘aggressive’ promotion of its Canadian versions is contributing to its success, according to Dinga, who says the caster found the ‘perfect’ advertising partner for 5th Grader in kid- and family-friendly Nintendo.

Fred Auchterlonie, EVP of client services at Toronto’s PHD Canada, says it’s good Global is ‘striking while the iron is hot’ – noting that game shows don’t necessarily sustain their punch in prime time for too long. The Canadian edition of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? was ‘a huge rage for a few seasons and then eventually people started looking for the next thing,’ he says. ‘Game shows have a shelf life, but there’s a best-before date, no question about it.’

Auchterlonie says research done by PHD found that advertisers benefit from running their content during game shows. ‘We were trying to get a sense of what types of programs had a better chance of maintaining audience numbers into commercials. Game shows and sports rank close to the top,’ he says, noting that people are more engaged when they watch interactive programs like these.

Barbara Williams, Global’s SVP of programming and production, says her net is ‘delighted’ by the popularity of the game show genre, explaining that such fare gives them an opportunity to grow their audiences with the Canadian versions. The second episode of 5th Grader airs tonight at 9 pm ET.