Today, I decided to watch a bunch of stuff on Netflix. Mostly game shows, because that is pretty much part of this brand awareness.
But those are not really Netflix Originals, and are more just building into the library, for the sake of building. “The Chase” was once on Netflix, but has since been taken down, if it’s not original programming, there is no need to keep it up.
So it kind of hit me? Is there any real Netflix Original Game Shows?
Competition-wise, yes. You have Ultimate Beastmaster which stripped away it’s shitty dudebro “NO PARTICIPATION TROPHIES” marketing of season one, into a much better and cooler global physical challenge game show featuring 18 different hosts (yes, 18! 2 per country, including the U.S.) While it is clearly a Ninja Warrior clone (filmed at the Wipeout U.S. set) it tries it’s best to branch off into a points-based system vs the ninja warrior time-based one-and-done act. The grand prize for all of this is $50,000 - which consider stuff like American Gladiators, isn’t that bad.
Another is the cooking-competition Nailed It! that celebrates people being human. Three amateur bakers try to recreate cake masterpieces in little time, and of course, screw up in decorating and baking and make ooey gooey messes. While Beastmaster plays like a sports broadcast, this plays into the comedy aspect, with the mistakes people make and the comedy aspect of host Nicole Byer. Each episode gives away $10,000 (which is on-par with shows like Chopped or Cooks vs Cons) but what the show works, is the fact that the “contestants” all seem like everyday people, the regular joes in the world trying to recreate these lavish cakes, and the comedy that comes with the mistakes that are common.
And not only that, but today they released The Fix their take on a British Panel show, complete with Jimmy Carr as host and American and Canadian comedians to try and tell jokes. It’s a show. If this works, it will be the first panel game show that’s NOT trying to be a game show. (That’s right, @midnight and Wait Wait should not count, those are spoof game shows, while this is simply a sad improv pitch show that I would probably see at the UCB)
But when it comes to a “game show” - can that be a thing on Netflix? Truthfully speaking, no. Core game shows such as “The Price is Right” or “Wheel of Fortune” just don’t have the bingable behavior of these shows. Some shows like “Patriot Act” update weekly, but it’s unsure about the numbers. And because they cancelled “The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale” I am still a bit salty.
Anyway, taking into consideration the previous original formats, and their need for “bingeable” “must talk about” shows (like Queer Eye) there are a few directions Netflix could go…
For instance, You Don’t Know Jack could work as a Netflix show. While the ABC version had a bunch of flops. The mix of actual game show with a minor sketch series involving the host, would work for a Netflix binge format. Each episode could have a “theme” (much like how “The Ride”, “5th Dementia” and “Louder! Faster! Funner!” was orchestrated) with a host going through an overlaying story arc behind the scenes. It keeps a game show going, while giving something to the audiences in regards to “The Host” and their character. This is something where it’s best if the host was NOT a famous face, but rather somebody with great improv skills, but can keep a show going.
One of the other ways they could go is something a little more daring. In the last episodes of “Deal or No Deal” in the United Kingdom, they had a gimmick called “On Tour” where they went all across the country and played the game in a contestants home city at a familiar location.
I am not saying “Deal or No Deal” but on location to places. But if shows like Queer Eye taught me anything, it’s that if you’re going to create characters and show people’s heart and large support. The idea of having them pick a box and have 21 close friends and family help them out is something far interesting.
It doesn’t have to be for $1,000,000 or £250,000. But something similar.
A game show that is NOT an “Ambush” or like “Opportunity Knocks” where the gimmick is “that it’s played at home with the family and their belongings”
A simple game show, where it celebrates a person and gives them a chance to play for some actual lifechanging money.
It works because if it’s Netflix, each episode will deliver a contestant and location and while the game is similar, everything surrounding it will be different.
Finally, a game show I really enjoyed was “World Series of Pop Culture” on VH1. It was a tournament-style competition where 16 teams of 3 people would compete in head-to-head battles in various pop culture subjects such as film, television, music and beyond.
For a Netflix-audience, who is pop culture savvy, they would easily play along. On a budget reason, it’s a tournament-style, so they might only have to fork-up one cash prize (and casting would be easy)
Tournament Shows are very bingable, but don’t offer much-rewatch ability. You want to keep watching to see the next teams and see more of the game. And because it is a “knock-out” style competition, shows don’t have to stay-put or stretched out for time. The next episode could be a clean sweep, or it could be until the 5th and final round.
Netflix has a limited budget, but when it comes to game shows, they are looking at places like GSN to fill in that void. If they start getting more into original formats that fit into their bingeable behavior, and offer great storytelling, or play-along ability. It could have a few hits on their hands.