‘Game’ duo scores

Low-rated gameshows get big-market renewals

Against steep odds, Columbia TriStar TV Distribution has kept its syndie revivals of “The Dating Game” and “The Newlywed Game” alive for a third season, picking up late renewals in Gotham and Los Angeles.

“The Dating/Newlywed Hour” has been cleared for year three, which begins Monday, by Fox O&O WNYW New York and indie KCAL Los Angeles. All told, the shows are cleared on 165 stations covering more than 90% of U.S. TV households, including 48 of the top 50 markets.

Col TriStar’s gameshow revivals have struggled on the low end of the Nielsen syndie rankings ever since they bowed as a syndie hour block in the fall of 1996.

Sony’s TV arm, however, is committed to keeping the shows on the air in an effort to groom aging assets into new franchises for the studio. Col TriStar TV absorbed the rights to the Chuck Barris gameshow creations in the early 1990s.

Good bets

Station programmers say they’ve stuck with “Dating” and “Newlywed,” hosted by gameshow vets Chuck Woolery and Bob Eubanks, respectively, because the shows are affordable, compared with other syndie strips, and because they generally don’t raise red flags with content-sensitive advertisers.

Still, it’s a testament to Col TriStar’s status as a major player — one with hot off-net product like “Seinfeld” — that the studio has been able to keep the shows afloat in syndication in the face of low ratings, not to mention intense competition from other distribs for the timeslots.

Col TriStar is able to amortize the modest production budgets on “Dating” and “Newlywed” by rerunning the shows on Sony’s Game Show Network cabler.

Also, new Spanish-lingo productions of “Dating” and “Newlywed” will bow this fall on Telemundo, the U.S. Spanish-lingo web that Sony acquired in partnership with Liberty Media earlier this year.

For season three, Col TriStar has updated the “Dating” and “Newlywed” sets with brighter, bolder color schemes.

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