With its "Coast to Coast Search for a Host" series of actual game shows, Sony's only cable TV venture is generating what the company called "significant" response, prompting potential viewers to demand that local cable operators offer the 24-hour channel.
Launched in late 1994, the network airs classic and new game shows. It has 5 million viewers and wants to hit 7 million by yearend.
"The cable TV market gets more competitive by the day, but getting viewers to call in is still the most effective way to get local cable TV operators to carry a network," a Sony spokeswoman said.
The Game Show Network's promotional tour began last spring. In each city it visits, the tour conducts open auditions for game show hosts, then a few days later stages a live game show at a public venue, pitting each potential host against one another in competitions of skill and trivia.
SHOWDOWN IN L.A.
One contestant from each local competition will attend a final game showdown in Los Angeles in November. Grand prize is a Jeep Grand Cherokee, $5,000 cash and a real TV game show hosting opportunity on the network.
Prize sponsors have included Photography by JC Penney, Borden Foods' Cracker Jack and Magic Tree Resort, Orlando, but Sony is now seeking additional sponsors at costs ranging from $30,000 to $100,000. The Synergy Group, Chicago, handles.
In New Haven, Conn.; Orlando; Pontiac, Mich.; and Boston, the tour drew about 700 spectators to each show. On-site promotion included reminders to call local cable operators to request carrying the Game Show Network.
"Everyone wants 5 minutes of fame, and we're capitalizing on that through the auditions," the spokeswoman said. "Then spectators who come to watch the live game shows for a few minutes end up getting hooked on it, and they become part of the event."