Chad Mosher
GSN, New Show, Opinion, Schedule Change
Opinion: GSN Orders Non-Game Show “Family Trade” to Series… Why? Thumbnail

Opinion: GSN Orders Non-Game Show “Family Trade” to Series… Why?

American Dream Derby. DJ Games. Vegas Weddings Unveiled. Hidden Agenda. If some of these titles don’t seem familiar to you, that’s okay. They’re not familiar to 99% of America, either. These are all titles of reality-based programs that the former (and once in a while, still) Game Show Network has produced that have no or a very miniscule connection to actual games and game shows. All of these shows performed poorly in the ratings during their respective times on the schedule and have been swept under the rug because, apparently, their core audience base did not care to watch “reality” as opposed to “game” shows. Historically, reality does not perform well on GSN. Even a big name competition show like Dancing With the Stars wasn’t kept on the schedule for more than six months after it performed poorly once acquired for the schedule. So, after being familiar with all of this data previously, GSN announced yesterday that they have ordered a new non-game show to their 2013 schedule based around the dealings at a Vermont auto dealership called Family Trade.

The premise is simple. Apparently, the G-Stone Motors dealership in Vermont will trade almost anything for credit towards a car. The show will document those trades. And, of course, since we can’t have a Pawn Stars-like show without drama, there will be waaaaacky hijinks between the family members who run the store on what constitutes a good trade, Yep. That’s about it.  According to Amy Introcaso-Davis, GSN’s Executive Vice President of Programming., GSN is classifying this under the Real-Life Games category, which are “shows that take place in real settings and feature real-life risk and reward.” That’s internal phrasing for “we need to try to pass these shows off to our core audience somehow.” It’s a non-competition reality show, plain and simple. This is just one of a few of these GSN has on their developmental slate. This is the first one to be ordered to a series – eight half-hour episodes in this case.

I commend GSN for trying to break out of the box with programming something besides strict studio game shows with a $5,000 bonus game. I really do. But what they’ve broken out of the box with in the past hasn’t proven to work. Obviously the network doesn’t need to revert to airing all pre-1986 game show repeats. I’m not saying that at all. But traditional game shows are what have been successful for them in the past and, judging from ratings for acquisitions recently like Minute to Win It and Steve Harvey’s Family Feud, that’s what is working for them right now. You might not be interested in the Bible or cooking, but American Bible Challenge and Beat the Chefs are game shows. GSN has found a way to turn the cooking competition show into a more game show-style format and, because of that, it is more likely to be a success. Even something like Baggage did wonders for the network. But  that was an original idea executed very well, not a ripoff of a successful franchise already diluted in the cable market by networks with higher visibility. I just don’t see fans of the show willing to watch the Stone family wheel and deal for a 1999 Ford Taurus and I can’t imagine it being compelling enough for the average channel flipper to stop and find interesting either.

You were heading in the right direction with your recent moves, GSN. Picking up Minute to Win It is doing wonders for you and it will be interesting to see how Bible, Chefs and The Pyramid work out for you in a couple of weeks. But I feel like it can be easily seen what will happen with Family Trade. It’s going  to be promoted like crazy, fizzle out midway through the run and won’t be seen again unless you look for it on that dusty tape library shelf next to the show about horse racing. Stick with what you know, GSN. Whenever you don’t, it does not end up in your favor. What do you think? Do you agree with me? Or do you think this is the move GSN needs to break free from its shell? And, most importantly, will you watch?

Chad Mosher

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37 responses to "Opinion: GSN Orders Non-Game Show “Family Trade” to Series… Why?"

  • Scott says:

    I feel like GSN turns into A&E with their series Storage Wars!

  • Chico says:

    Colloquial definition of “insanity” goes here.

    • Scott says:

      Apparently, GSN doesn’t know the old saying, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

      At least it’s only 8 episodes this time, instead of producing a full season of 40 episodes, but it’s still going to fail. And then we’ll see more Family Feud pop up in the schedule to cover up all the time slots Family Trade is going to get, when the bad ratings force GSN to remove it.

  • The Dragon says:

    I agree, GSN should stick with what they know, I get it, they can’t Pre 1986 foever, GSN had some great originality out there, Catch 21 for example, then GSN picks up Pyramid, sounds great, American Bible Challenge, meh is my thought on that at the moment Lingo they could make it happen, my point is GSN seemed to start heading off in a good direction, instead of taking their revenue and blowing it on stuff that we know is not going to work for them, do something better, go bring back Catch 21, Make Lingo better. The viewers have screamed at their televisions for years to GSN on what we want and it just seems GSN does not 100% listen. When it seems they are it is like an exec is screaming “Oh my God what are we doing with actual Game Shows???”

    I am not saying that this idea or concept is bad overall, what I am saying is, this is not a fit for GSN.

  • Mike says:

    Will I watch? Hell no. Will it succeed? Probably not, but you never know. It seems like GSN is constantly pushing to find that one reality show that will break the streak of flops and allow them to broaden their audience beyond people who like game shows.

    Good luck with that, GSN. Meanwhile, I’ll enjoy seeing the classics and promising *game show* originals like “The Pyramid” while I still can.

  • Digifan23 says:

    I’ll watch…IF the Whammy, The Dragon,That Devil, The Stop Sight, & The Lighting, pay taxs on ALL the cash and prizes he/it’s stolen from contestants over the years.

    or NBC picks up on AMC and OLTL but none of these are happing at ALL

    long story short……NOPE!

  • Michael Hetrick says:

    GSN (Game Show Network former) has always had a “one step forward…two steps back mentality”, going back even to its launch days. All these great, classic shows….but no The Price is Right for the first year. Oops. They wanted to have live, interactive shows that people at home could be contestants and win…that died out. They have originals that are great (Whammy, Catch 21, Lingo, GSN Live, PlayMania) followed by epic disasters (…pick your own to insert here…).

    It’s also the same network that, while bringing us access to some of the lesser known gems, lost access to many of the Goodson-Todman library titles during the “dark period”.

    I think the issue is that GSN is only successful when someone is running that programming department understands and knows game shows. Not reality, straight up game. It was successful when Bob Boden, Rich Cronin, Jake Tauber (minus the dark period fiasco) were in charge and it could be that way again. Amy Introcaso-Davis came from Bravo..and while I applaud her work there in giving reality TV another, more successful home, it’s not the same audience or type over on GSN.

    Yes, I think GSN should continue with older shows and try new originals. I have to say I’m excited about “The Pyramid”. Bringing back interactive games would be great so people at home could have a chance to win again. They were sort of pioneers in that, but with how technology has changed it’s gotten so much easier now. They own a gaming website in WorldWinner, they could utilize Facebook and Twitter. There’s a lot of possibility there if they would explore it. Look at Scripps doing “Let’s Ask America” with contestants via Skype.

  • David says:

    I love this article. Indeed, GSN’s best stuff has been stuff that has a traditional feel, but gives it a modern kick. Silly shows like this drivel (seriously, trading maple syrup for cars!?) has not and probably will not ever work. So why try it so many times? GSN simply isn’t big enough to use the “Bowl of Pasta” theory of programming (throw it against the wall and see if it sticks).

  • glenn says:

    It does seem they try to go too far out of the box recently. Going back to Late Night Liars (WTF liar’s club with PUPPETS, just show reruns of the Ludden semi classic. I’d swear that it’d do better ratings, but that wasn’t saying much)

    the scary thing was that wasn’t the craziest idea GSN put forth in that era…INSTANT RECALL, yes winker, but whatever that Acid trip was, I’d best not remember it.

    That brings us to Improvaganza which really needed to be on Comedy Central it was funny enough and I liked it. But it had no place on GSN and the ratings proved it.

    Buying Dancing with the Stars was a disaster waiting to happen…unlike game shows, reality shows seem to be more akin to a sports tournament, you don’t want to see it again, just remember the highlights.

    Im not high on the Bible challenge, it caters to too specialized an audience. I think GSN may have been better producing the show and selling it to a TBN and other Religous broadcasters.

    Beat the Chefs looks good…a cross between chopped and Ready Set Cook! (Which Food Network never got right despite 4 seasons but was a Staple in europe for almost a decade) I think this may be a gamble that may pay off BUT it is a Major Gamble and i it doesn’t pay I wouldn’t be shocked

    But no reality shows don’t work here…this is another attempt. It will fail…and I am wondering how many more hits GSN should take.

  • Kevin $ says:

    I try to be nice to GSN…I really do…but I, literally, just don’t understand why the network tries reality shows. They’ve NEVER worked. EVER…in almost 20 years.

    The best IDEA (not most successful, but makes the most sense) was Chuck Woolery’s one. Yeah…it sucked too and was the first “reality” show, but at least it had SOME game show connection. Everything else has simply been terrible.


    • glenn says:

      Yes but naturally stoned was blamed for Woolery’s breakup…remember they had to rewrite the final episode because of it (delaying the finale for a week) the other docureality show they tried, Carnie wilson sued…so NO.


  • Dorvell says:

    In two words, hell no! Why they keep doing this is beyond me. I’m no business man, but even I know that if you try something a few times and it doesn’t work, there’s no point in doing it again given your past track record with whatever that failed project was.

  • Mark says:

    Why they would do this and not bring back Burt Ludden’s Love Buffet is beyond me.

    • K.C. says:

      I KNOW!!! I loved that show.. I’m the only one and I know it, but I’d do about anything to see the second part to the series finale. I was left on a cliffhanger and NEVER saw the ending!! 12 years later and I’m STILL on a cliffhanger!!

  • Randy says:

    WHY? You ask WHY? Because the people running the network have no clue what they’re doing. I though it would get better with Amy Whatsherface running things, but as long as David Goldhill is there, you will see a network with no direction, no original thought, and no idea what to do.

  • James Greek says:

    This belongs on TLC. Mike Hetrick, when Jake Tauber ran GSN, we had junk like Inquisition, Burt Luddin’s Love Buffet, and DJ Games. But he had a good pedigree though.

  • K.C. says:

    Premiering MTWI as a marathon and now this. Are they TRYING to fail?!!

  • rich cerasale says:

    gsn should focus on game shows not reality shows

  • James E. Partenb says:

    Let me add my bathtub baritone to the rest of the chorus heard above!

    GSN hasn’t succeeded yet with a “reality” show, and its core audience does not want “reality” shows. They want “shiny floor” game shows–real, honest-to-Goodson-Todman game shows!

    If gsn wants to try something different,m perhaps they should get hold of ITV, Channel Four, Objective Productions, and whomever else does not appear on the BBC, (attention, BBC America!) and try to get American re-broadcast rights to the kind of shows that “The Banker’s Nephew” has been uploading.

    The gsn audience wants game shows that have some degree of game to them.

    • Scott says:

      Many of the game shows currently produced by ITV, BBC and Channel 4 are pretty amazing, and they produce more game shows than GSN does nowadays. I’d have to believe the viewers of GSN would watch them over the reality garbage that GSN often chooses spend time and money producing.

      • Chris B says:

        James, Scott, I’m with you here. Delving into reality programming with no element of a game puzzles me. I know it’s for ratings, but I think this format just won’t work for GSN. If GSN doesn’t wan to produce old fashioned game shows (Pyramid, etc), then grab some from England and produce them here!

  • Poochy.EXE says:

    I suspect what’s happening with GSN and a whole bunch of other networks is, they’re trying to pull a Blair Witch Project – produce something on a shoestring budget and hope it makes money. And these sorts of lame reality show concepts are the cheapest to produce. What they never seem to realize is that (a) you get what you pay for, and (b) it’s still a sucker bet, akin to the lottery, or calling on the small blind with 72 offsuit – yes, there’s a tiny, tiny chance that it’ll pay off, but the odds of that are so small that you might as well just throw your money in cash into the Pacific Ocean. And trying to make a quick buck, as opposed to trying to actually make a decent show on a tight budget, is only making the odds even worse.

    And keep in mind GSN isn’t the only network to do this. The History Channel spends half its time showing these sorts of shows, and the other half is devoted to “documentaries” trying to lend credence to the most idiotic crackpot UFO and conspiracy theories outside of cable news networks, which themselves just show know-nothing know-it-alls screaming their opinions and celebrity gossip all day and spend very little time delivering actual information (plus when they do, half of it is incorrect, and it’s faster to Google the other half). TLC used to be The Learning Channel, and the Sci-Fi Channel was showing pro wrestling for a while. And then there’s the mother of all examples, MTV. I don’t think I even need to describe that one.

    I guess my point is, 90% of cable TV is crud, and I find I’m much happier when I don’t expect anything remotely watchable to be on TV in the first place. At least GSN is only about 80% crud.

  • AssHat says:

    Every specialty network (TLC comes to mind, as does MTV) has ditched their original focus for general entertainment programming. The network’s initialism name permits that.
    The Learning Channel is only meaningless TLC.
    Music Television is lowest common denominator MTV.
    Game Show Network will evolve into useless GSN.

  • Daniel B. says:

    This is a terrible, terrible concept for a GSN series. And before someone says “Well, that’s your opinion.”, let me say this — while I’m sure it’d work on a different niche channel, it’s not a game show AT ALL, therefore it’s a terrible concept for GSN.

    Honestly, it seems like GSN makes crappy shows so they have an excuse to shove more “Feud” down our throats.

    Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

    • Chris B says:

      You may be right, Daniel. It does feel like they want GSN to be the 24-Hour Feud Network. That’s why I’m hoping this Family Trade won’t work, they’ll get wise, and call up Mike Richards, Jerry Springer, Sherri Shepard, and Jeff Foxworthy for more shows. Then again, that almost sounds logical.

  • Scott Meckley says:

    I can only think of one reality type show that would work on GSN. I won’t say it but I know it would work. I personally wouldn’t do any reality except this one I’m thinking if I were running GSN. I would have all gameshows except this one and this one reality show has something to do with gameshows. Other than that I wouldn’t put reality TV of any sort on GSN. Bring back more classics and try a few new ones like the Bible Challenge, reviving Pyrmaid and I’d revive some other classics as well.

  • Jesse says:

    The very fact that its on GSN leads me to think that TLC, A&E or any other network didn’t want it. Why GSN want to peddle another potential bad reality show is beyond me. I say give it to ION and let them have an original show for once.

  • Chris Parsley says:

    Just watched a half-hour plug show for the Bible Challenge (GSN), and it doesn’t look bad, and how they are advertising it shocked me a little. Ads started today on Conservative talk radio shows (The one I caught was while I was flipping through the dial on Sean Hannity’s show), so they at least are putting the full blitz out for the show.

  • Chris B says:

    While I comment GSN for trying something new, I don;t see this show lasting beyond it’s 8 episode order. GSN has done great with The Newlywed Game, Baggage, the acquired Family Feud episodes, and The American Bible Challenge, with what look like commitments to those shows. As for The Pyramid, the jury is still out, but it seems unlikely to return despite it being a fantastic return of a classic format that’s sorely needed nowadays, and that’s a damn shame. It could easily compliment the other shows if they find a way to promote it more, or put it in a spot where it would garner more ratings, but the numbers have been cruel to it, and that’s ultimately unfair. With Family Trade, it just feels like GSN is grasping for ratings while losing what makes the network great – producing game shows. Even Minute to Win It and Beat The Chefs are worthy since they have game elements. Family Trade has none of that appeal, and it feels like it’s a desperate move to break away from the game show genre some higher ups believe are handcuffing the network. What these higher ups should be working on is getting more episodes of its originals and not experimenting with a format that’s already taken by History and A&E. That, and calling up Mike Richards and the gang for more episodes of Pyramid. That would be the smart move.

    That said, let them have their 8 episodes. I’m willing to bet that it won’t see another episode order. Then they’ll have to consider going back to games since that’s the bread and butter of the network. But for now, it seems like the higher ups are starting to lose their way. It’s disappointing since Family Trade is a format that is so far out in left field it defies logic. To this loyal game show fan, this move is downright offensive when we know better formats exist. But for now, let them shoot themselves in the foot. Then, if they’re smart, they’ll crawl back on their knees and state they were wrong. Hopefully.

  • Myke25 says:

    It could simply be that the “shiny floor game show” niche audience is just too small to sustain its own 24-hour network. If the Goodson-Todman classics were cost-effective, they’d be back on GSN. The traditional daytime game show audience (stay-at-home moms and students) just isn’t home in the numbers they were back in the genre’s heyday. That’s why there are only two game shows on the networks’ daytime schedules…and talk shows are less-expensive than games. And with hundreds of channels out there, I’m amazed any of the niche nets make money!

    The Pyramid is the best revision we could possibly have hoped for, short of copying the Clark series. Before its premiere, it was widely regarded as the best classic game franchise not currently on the air. It needed more of a prime-time presence at its launch, though Friday nights were a good call to try to reach the older viewers. Unfortunately, they launched The Pyramid about the same time as the broadcast networks were rolling out their fall shows. GSN should try scheduling the Pyramid repeats after Family Feud at 11:30p, just to see if they can grab more audience than at 6p.
    But if they can’t make The Pyramid work, I think they need to really look at the feasibility of a “game show network” in the long-term.

    As for reality shows, if GSN couldn’t make the most award-winning reality competition show work (The Amazing Race), what makes them think Family Trade will? Answer: desperation.

    But on the upside…AT&T U-verse just added GSN in HD…not that GSN has that many shows in HD, but it’s something!

  • ibleet says:

    I agree. GSN needs to stick with Game Shows. Last year they tried to add a cooking show (Beat the Chefs) and it had ratings so low it fell flat on its face. The same will happen with Family Trade. Not only is is NOT a game show, but the premise is completely ridiculous! It is nothing but an unrealistic, fake, scripted reality show.

  • ibleet says:

    Maybe GSN is trying to follow in the footsteps of MTV and VH1?

    MTV stands for music television, but I swear you can watch that network for days and not see a single musical performance.

    Same with VH1…it stands for Video Hits 1, but you can watch the network for days and not see a single video.

    Both are nothing but Crap, scripted, fake reality shows, and if it weren’t for all the kiddies watching them, they would have no audience at all.

    C’mon GSN, pull it together! Maybe grab “Lets make a deal” and “The price is right”. At least they are game shows.

  • Josh says:

    No, GSN can not get those 2 shows because CBS doesn’t want it.

  • Joyce D. Allard says:

    I won’t comment on the programming in general. I only want to say that I love game shows, and watch GSN daily, being an elderly shut-in. Pyramid and Family Feud are my favorites, Bible Challenge is great, Chain Reaction and Lingo are good, but as soon as Family Trade or Baggage come on I immediately switch channels. And in Family trade, they had the nerve to include a Geico commercial, having Gardner Stone say, “I’ll tell you who’s happy – it’s me, since I found out I can save 15% by switching to Geico.” Now, that’s too much! Password is good, don’t care too much for Catch 21, but generally, I keep the GSN channel on most of the time. All in all, I’m very glad GSN exists.

  • Nazarine says:

    Am I in the minority because I adore reality shows? No! Reality shows are what everyone is talking about. These are fun shows that can be a little farfetched, but nonetheless reality shows are a real hoot to watch. Bravo, A&E and TLC have some of the best reality shows. I’m a huge Honey Boo Boo fan. Little Alana is a doll! Mamma June and Sugar Bear are such fun people. I hope GSN goes more for reality programming. I was disappointed when they took off Dancing with The Stars. At least it’s still on ABC:)

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