GSN gets makeover

New-look cabler makes play for younger auds

The Game Show Network just got a facelift.

As expected, the cabler unveiled a new on-air design and truncated moniker — GSN: The Network for Games — during its portion of the Television Critics Assn. winter press tour.

Much like the Learning Channel’s transition to TLC: Life Unscripted, the Game Show Network has taken an abbreviated name in an effort to attract younger auds to the channel. Cabler also revealed “GSN at 10 p.m.,” a Monday-Friday home to new shows on the channel.

GSN president-CEO Rich Cronin said the shift in brand was only natural. “A lot of it happened because you, and our advertising affiliates, kept referring to us as GSN,” he said, noting that Game Show Network was too genre specific and limiting to where the channel wanted to go.

“From ABC to ESPN to TLC, there’s a lot of great networks that have the letter names. GSN tested great for us and we think it’s perfect. We are GSN, the Network for Games.”

Expansion has been in the works since Cronin took over in May 2001. Signs of rebranding began to emerge last year with the premieres of the original documentary “Press Your Luck” and the celeb-centered reality show “Chuck Woolery: Naturally Stoned.” Most recent signs of change on the horizon include the greenlighting of two reality shows and the departure of programming topper Bob Boden (Daily Variety, Dec. 9).

Cronin said that in keeping with the new brand, GSN’s new slate focuses on a variety of game genres and formats that move away from classic studio-based game shows.

“With a name like Game Show Network, most people thought of buzzers and bells, hosts, and lovely parting gifts, all those kinds of cliches that to be able to have reality shows, which are also games, or casino games, or documentaries, or video games, we needed to broaden it,” Cronin said. “We feel that it’s a really big idea to be the network for all kinds of games — all games, all the time.”

Rebranding goes into effect March 15, when GSN launches its on-air look and new 10 p.m.-centered programming anchored by three originals and two new acquisitions. Cronin told Daily Variety he hopes the new schedule brings in the auds who watch shows like “South Park.”

Lineup is comprised of “GSN’s World Series of Blackjack,” the six-part hour-long hosted by vet play-by-play man Matt Vasgersian, on Mondays; whodunit series “The Mole” on Tuesdays; GSN original “Fake-A-Date,” a relationship/reality series hosted by “Joe Millionaire” star Evan Marriott, on Wednesdays; “Kenny vs. Spenny,” another original in which best buds challenge each other to a series of absurd duels, on Thursdays; and the hidden camera series “Spy TV” on Fridays.

Next year, GSN will also bow the doc “Video Game Invasion: The History of Global Obsession” hosted by Tony Hawk; “Greek Games,” a Olympics spoof-competition produced in collaboration with college web National Lampoon Network; and “Vegas Weddings Unveiled,” a hidden camera show from SokoLobl Entertainment (“Taildaters”).

And though the cabler won’t be abandoning gameshows, they’ll be relegated to the daytime.

Classic gameshows will continue to make up the majority of programming. GSN just ordered 65 additional segs of “Lingo” and picked up “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.”

GSN is available in 54 million homes.

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