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What Does Wheel of Fortune Need To Stay Fresh?

What Does Wheel of Fortune Need To Stay Fresh?

Wheel of Fortune is on the verge of losing its syndicated dominance. It needs some fresh new ideas to stay on top.

Hey, did you hear about Wheel of Fortune‘s last Million Dollar Winner? You probably did, because you’re a game show fan. Did your mom? Did your co-workers? Probably not. Wheel of Fortune‘s been a mainstay of the syndicated TV landscape for the better part of two decades, but as time goes on, it feels like the game is coasting by.

Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 9.41.40 PMThe game’s been largely unchanged, except for some special wedges, and clearly people are still watching it. In an interview with the Archive of American Television, WoF executive producer Harry Friedman said, “We try to make Wheel of Fortune reliable—not predictable.” It’s evident that the game is reliable, and from game to game, no event is predictable. There are still big winners, including two recent car winners. But the general population just doesn’t care.

Jeopardy!‘s benefitted from three specific events in the past year: The Battle of the Decades, Julia Collins’ historic run and Arthur Chu’s villainous persona. Those three things generated buzz and refreshed the show to a load of new viewers. Family Feud‘s meteoric rise is well-documented, but a dynamic, entertaining host; fresh writing and a careful balance of gameplay and comedy have elevated it to its best ratings in over 20 years. Moments from each episode of Feud are shared, re-shared and have gone viral.

Wheel of Fortune needs something big in order to continue its dominance atop the syndicated ratings list. Here’s a list of a few things WoF can do to maintain its stature.


A New Look and Feel

More of the same old, same old. Shiny black floor, neon light posts, generic theme song. The Price is Right makes it a point to improve, change and otherwise update their set once a season to make things feel fresh and exciting. Other than a few graphical changes, Wheel’s set has stayed stagnant for a few years now. Sure, Jeopardy! hasn’t changed much, but the center focus of Jeopardy! isn’t a 2-ton spinning wheel filled with lights and colors. Is it time to make things bigger, brighter, or different? You bet. Shockingly, this clearly-90s composition is still widely recognized as the theme song for Wheel of Fortune. This infomercial background song is currently gallivanting around as the current Wheel of Fortune theme song. Wheel needs to look to its past for a new theme song and into the future for a new, more dynamic set.

Make Vowels More Expensive

Mostly because I know that if I write this article and don’t say it, one of our loyal readers will. I got you, homies. $250 for a vowel? That’s not a penalty. That’s a minor inconvenience. Up it and the strategy of the game slightly changes. The more you up it, the more of a risk it becomes in the name of securing the solve. The more game strategy we can shove into Hangman, the better.

More Interesting Prizes

Trips, cars, gift tags. Yawn. Part of the early allure of Wheel of Fortune was the wide variety of prizes available. Anyone over 40 probably would understand when you talk about the “ceramic dalmatian.” The Price is Right makes a big deal about their Big Money weeks or Dream Car weeks. Imagine: 10 dream cars on stage. 10 dream car envelopes in the Bonus Round wheel. It’s a tangible, visual product that’s easy to market and even easier to link to in a YouTube video. Every show gives away a trip, but trips can be varied with more exotic locations and supplemented with experiences. There’s always a gift tag on the wheel, but is it ever something anyone actively wants rather than being pleased to have? Usually not. Even on my episode of Wheel in 2004, I wasn’t hot on the big prize of knock-off Segways.

Make the Game More Competitive

The competitiveness in Wheel of Fortune is mostly passive—there are three people playing against the wheel and the puzzle. You can’t directly compete with an opponent outside of the Toss-Up puzzles. You mostly have to be good at Hangman and hope your opponents hit a bad space or call a bad letter. What’s the solution? That’s a good question. There’s not a lot of way to make the game more directly competitive without completely changing the fundamentals of the game. What I had devised is a Battle Round, where each consonant is a flat $1,000. One player calls a letter. If the letter is in the puzzle, they get to call again. If it’s not, then the next player to buzz in gets to call a letter. No solving, either—keep calling letters until you get the whole puzzle filled in. Will this work in actuality? Probably not. Is it something that’s worth investigating? Absolutely.

Julia Collins

Bring Back Your Winners

What made Julia Collins’ run on Jeopardy! so exciting? Her double-digit winning streak. What made Ken Jennings’ run so exciting? His double-digit winning streak. Big money comes with big streaks. Imagine the possibilities: a superb Wheel of Fortune player like Emilbert giving a week’s worth of amazing solves? Racking up $60K and episode? It’d quickly become life-changing for a stellar Wheel of Fortune player. Could it possibly break the bank? Oh, definitely. In the aforementioned interview, Friedman said of Sony and the show’s budget: “They’ve been unbelievably supportive where it counts—and that is, in the area of financing these changes. They’ve always believed the money should be reinvested in the show, and the money should be on the screen.” There would be no better return on investment than record-breaking ratings. I bet someone on their fifth game of Wheel of Fortune with a chance to win $1,000,000 more would definitely break records.

If Wheel of Fortune wants to stay atop the syndicated ratings, it’s going to need to do something drastic and fast. Whether it’s these ideas (please—take them and run with them, Harry!) or something different and new, Wheel of Fortune definitely needs to do something different.

What do you think Wheel of Fortune could do differently? Share your thoughts below. Special thanks to Jessica from the Buy-A-Vowel boards and BuzzerBlog friend Benjamin Williams for their input in writing this article.


  1. Sam Hodkin

    A fair few ideas spring to mind, which may split opinion:

    1. Change, or scrap, the Prize Puzzle: All too often, the Prize Puzzle has determined the outcome of the game. Either scrap it, or make it so that the value of the prize isn’t added to a contestant’s score.

    2. Less Toss-Ups: In my opinion, Wheel needs only ONE tossup, at the beginning of the show, maybe even as a Cold Open.

    3. Make the Wheel more visually appealing: This is 2014, and the Wheel looks dated (barring special wedges e,g, Free Play). In line with the idea of the suggestion to revamp the set, may I cite the set and Wheel from MDWOF in Australia? That Wheel was so bright and lit-up, it would look stunning in HD.

    Just my views, bite me.

  2. Owen Hall

    I agree with all of your ideas. The Prize Puzzle just needs to go altogether, only one toss-up is really needed (and again, it should be a cold open, like in Million Dollar Wheel), and the Wheel set definitely needs to be revamped. Also, they should bring back the returning (or “carry-over” as they call them Down Under) champions.

  3. Thanks for the mention (name/site), Cory! These are common points of interest back there, usually that the game has been easier to win. I’ll expand briefly on each of these points a bit later, as time is limited at present, as for why they matter. Benjamin did a great job listing fresh ideas, as well; nice to see my thoughts of change match up quite well with his.

  4. David Downs

    All of the suggestions in the article (and the three Sam suggested) are great suggestions. I really don’t have much that I could add except:

    1. More varied cash spaces on the maingame wheel. Seven of the 24 spaces (if you count Free Play as one) are $500. That’s too frequent for one amount. Mix it up more, and add a permanent four-digit amount that’s not the top dollar value as well.
    2. More varied bonus round amounts. It’s painfully dull when 3/4 of your bonus rounds are played for the same prize (this connects to your “More Interesting Prizes” point). Add another car or mix in more of the other amounts.

  5. Wheelloon

    The core concept of returning champions on any game show is not a budgetary matter at all, it’s about a natural building of excitement within a show and to give home audiences a person to root for (or in Chu’s case, against). It gives viewers more investment in the show, Jeopardy has utilized this well over the years.

    Wheel has constantly said they will not bring back returning champions, for various reasons. I disagree with this decision, but I’ve contended that the Friday Finals format could be a legit and exciting loophole/alternative. Have the Friday show up the stakes in some form and give people that specific reason to watch that show. If they watch one show a week again to start, they’re gonna be more likely to soon watch more than one episode a week again.

    As for vowels, get real, changing the price will not draw in more viewers (unless they put a lot of effort into turning it into a viral marketing campaign, which I don’t see this current regime doing). Does the current wheel layout go mathematically at odds with vowel costs? Yes, but it’s been only this season really, and you can’t raise vowels too much or else you’ll slow people’s purchasing of them, which will ultimately slow the game down. IMHO, $500 is fine for a vowel, $750 max (remember $900 is STILL the highest regular non-TDV on the Wheel).

    Then, as you basically said, the show has lost an element of what made it different and so big/must-see-tv in the 80’s and early 90’s: summed up as “glamour.” Different, readily discernible new prizes each week that you didn’t see on TV anywhere else (Jags, Antarctica trips, TWO cars, winnebago’s, friggin’ lamborginis and porsche’s!). Price has stepped up where Wheel fell off in that regard as time has worn on, which makes it harder for Wheel to pull it off again, but it’s not impossible, everybody needs their product advertised sometime…

    Wheel’s issues here have existed before Feud has gotten its resurgence, no matter if its because Feud is shown 17 times a day in some markets or whatever. Is the comparison on equal footing? Ehhhh, maybe at best, but does that mean Wheel is excused from crafting a response to drive viewership and create a buzz of its own? Hell no. Wheel has the potential, if any effort is actually put into it, to do this the best, considering the various levels of unpredictability the show has from one episode to the next, the ideal programming scenario for when/where it airs, its fans, and the sort of “Americana” type history it’s crafted for itself.

  6. Bill k

    I like the idea of returning champions, up to five days, with an escalating top prize potential on the bonus round wheel for each successive win. First time winners play for a max prize of $100,000, second time winners for a max prize of $200,000, etc. with a max of $500,000 on the final day. (The Million Dollar Wedge would still be in play and replace the max prize as it currently does.) That would mean potential bonus round winnings of $1.5 million over five days if the winner were lucky enough to spin the max prize and solve the puzzle each night. It would also allow WoF the chance to hype and promote returning champions as they play for “the chance to win over $1 million in cash and prizes.”
    I also think the quality of the puzzles needs to be changed. Too often the puzzles are no longer common phrases, names, etc. and seem forced, especially for Prize Puzzles.

  7. Myke25

    A wider array of prizes would help. Trips to Hawaii have become boring. And stop tying the puzzle to the Prize.

    Bring back returning champs.

    Just make $1M the top prize in the bonus round instead of $100K. It’s not like people are hitting that $100K wedge every week…or even every month! That way you can promote that everyone is playing for $1M every day.

    And while I contend that the set doesn’t translate to viewership, the basic set (wheel and puzzle board) could use another high-tech upgrade. Make all of the wedges on the big wheel light up. Make the Puzzle board one big screen with animated spaces. Look at the fun Let’s Make a Deal’s set is with all of the LED lighting effects around the doors and behind the audience. WoF does a great job decorating the stage with different props for different themes…they just need to up their game some.

  8. Gordon Beattie

    I come from the UK where ‘Wheel’ lasted from 1988 to 2001 so I’m basing my observation on it and several editions I’ve watched on YouTube.

    Wheel has got too complicated – KEEP IT SIMPLE. Viewers turn off when you deviate too far from the original idea. Deal or No Deal here in the UK is a case in point – it was fine in a 45-minute slot but has been ruined by too many ad breaks, tinkering with the format, studio audience interaction.

    As for Wheel…
    Play the game for MONEY only – no special prizes.

    A MAXIMUM of 4 puzzles per game – giving more time for Pat to chat to the players.

    Change the values on the wheel – more 4-figure values on it.

    NO special segments on the wheel apart from Bankrupt, Lose A Turn, Free Spin and the $1,000,000 segment.

    Buzz-in questions to decide who spins first in each round – NO PUZZLE.

    Double $ values for Rounds 3 & 4.

    STRICTLY limit the letter choice on the Bonus Round to 5 consonants and 1 vowel – DON’T give L, N, R, S, T & E for free.

    Keep the envelope system to decide the prize on offer but value them at $50,000, $75,000, $100,000, $250,000 and the $1,000,000 (if it is spun during the game.)

    Have returning champions without a limit on how many games they can play BUT award an expensive car for every 5th win (like Tic Tac Dough and The Joker’s Wild did).

    Make the wheel VISUALLY more attractive, go BACK to LED/eggcrate displays for the player scoreboards and BRING BACK THE OLD BOARD!!! Make Vanna WORK for her money! =D

  9. Ragin' Ronic

    I’d say it might be time for Harry Friedman to NO LONGER be Exec. Prod. of BOTH Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!. That’s too much on one plate, and it’s clear to me that he’d rather it be Jeopardy! that has the bigger cash budget instead of Wheel.

  10. AUJenV811

    I suggest bringing back players who weren’t so lucky for a Second Chances Week (AKA myself 😉

  11. Scott

    Your Battle Round idea is basically what they do when the ship’s bell rings, except with the idea of a buzz-in to call the next letter. That would be a Jeopardy!-like addition that would spoil the flow of the game. There may be the germ of an idea there, but a constant race to the buzzer turns me off.

  12. ooboh

    Add more bankrupt spaces on the wheel. Yes, I know, I’m an evil person.

  13. Jerry O'Brien

    Yes, bring back past winners. Especially ones that Pat and Vanna liked ( aka my Wife Robyn)

  14. newmerical

    The only thing I fear with all these possible amazing changes is the GoldenRoad fanbois…oh wait…

  15. John C

    I do agree somewhat that Wheel is too stagnant and needs some changes to make it more exciting. They shouldn’t put in raunchiness and comedy like Family Feud has, and there’s no constant competition between contestants and dramatic final round like in Jeopardy because of the structure of the game, but there are some things they can do. I don’t think things like removing the Prize Puzzle or taking out Toss-Ups would make a big difference to ratings or buzz though.

    I think the best bet would be to bring returning champions back, and allow them to return until they are defeated or if they win the million. Or, limit them to an amount like 10 episodes, and on the 5th episode they play the bonus round for $100,000, and on the 10th they automatically play the bonus round for a million. That right there I think would bring in a lot more excitement and people paying more attention to the show. So would having a Tournament of Champions like Jeopardy does and making the teen and college weeks tournaments also.

    Speaking of the million, make it a little easier to win. Having it won once a week or even once a month would be excessive obviously, but 1-2 times a season wouldn’t hurt and would be exciting. If the contestant takes the million dollar wedge into the bonus round, perhaps add a way for the contestant to play for the million or nothing.

    I’ve never been in favor of upping the cost of values before, but this article made a great point that has convinced me to change my thoughts. Increasing the cost would definitely make people want to buy them less and have the risk of spinning the wheel and calling consonants.
    Other ideas: Bring the Jackpot back, but have it available in every round and start at $10,000. It can be won in any round, and resets in the next round. Also, put in more higher spaces on the wheel besides the big money spot, and increase the second lowest bonus prize to $75,000 when it’s not a million dollar round.

  16. I disagree with your premise. Wheel of Fortune has been consistent and the franchise owners know that. Three tenths of a rating point (or whatever that number will be) isn’t going to be diddlysquat to a show that’s lasted this long, and it’s certainly not going to be enough to call a meeting to Change Things Now!

    Since there’s no real reward or trophy for Top Rated Syndicated Gameshow, I’ve got a strong feeling that Sony doesn’t care if Family Feud wins that mythical prize this year, as long as Wheel’s ratings don’t drop significantly. They won’t.

  17. How would that make for better TV?

  18. I’d also add that maybe Sony should just let Feud reclaim their spot at #1 for a while. And as you’ve said, don’t let Wheel’s ratings drop significantly. Competition inspires creativity.

  19. Kevin Solomon

    I think Bruce makes a valid point, but Cory does, too (if that’s possible). If “Feud” claims the #1 spot, it should make “Wheel” change A LOT! Making drastic changes will probably result in “Wheel’s” ratings actually dropping a lot (since it will seem desperate). However, Cory’s point (and most people’s) is right on. If “Feud” catches up to “Wheel” (and possibly “Jeopardy!), it could be a sign of the end of “Wheel’s” dominance (Think of it as a slower death of a show…. sort of how “Feud” was eventually off the air after “Wheel” took over in ’83/’84).

    I think “Wheel” needs to do 2 or 3 big changes. That’s it. No more.

    1) Tweak things that are already things on the show. Adding a permanent four-digit value on the wheel most of the show (I DO NOT understand how $1,000 & $1,500 were regular spots on the show in the ’90s, yet aren’t today. Makes no sense…especially after round 4). Also add different types of prizes to the Prize Puzzle. I see no problem in giving traditional game show packages as the “prize.” Entertainment centers, living rooms, motorcyles, etc.

    2) Change the vowel amount. $500 or $1,000. It doesn’t seem like that would change viewership much (and it might not), but I think that would change the dynamic of the show. Everyone buys vowels whenever they want now and that’s frustrating. One of the BEST parts of watching the ’70s version is the fact that lower values ($100 & $150, for example) are on the wheel and contestants have to seriously consider buying vowels. It’s a small thing that can make the show much more exciting (and be a real selling point for a season).

    3) Returning contestants. Should they have no limit like “Jeopardy!?” I don’t know. A 5-day limit can still be exciting. I think the show shouldn’t specifically change the values in the bonus round (yet), but just have returning contestants. Seeing one contestant winning $40,000 three days in a row (plus the main game winning, often $15k) would be exciting, i think.

    There are other changes that should probably eventually be made. A brighter set like the show had pre-2008. Different prizes for the bonus round. A different theme for sure. Two toss-up puzzles (I like having one at the beginning of the show and one before Round 4). Etc. But too many changes too quickly will be jarring and might not be great.

    Just my thoughts though.

  20. Kevin Solomon

    I will say though. Most importantly, besides the Battle Round, all of these ideas have been things I’ve thought about for years. Clearly, others have, too. So this should really be taken seriously by the show.

    I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again: If you lose the majority of the loyal fans, you’re more likely to lose the general audience.

  21. David Wilson

    They like the current taping format (they do 6 eps at a time and not 5); so that probably nixes returning champs.

    I’d probably make it easier for the million to get into play- either put it on the bonus wheel from the beginning or make it so all they have to do is land on the MDW and call a right letter to earn the envelope on the wheel (they don’t have to solve the puzzle, and they don’t have to avoid a Bankrupt- if one player lands on it more than once, it becomes a million penny space- $10,000 a letter)- and it stays on the wheel so two or possibly all three players can win the chance…

    I also agree with them needing to add higher values (at least one or two $1000’s to break up all the $500’ can put $1250, $1500, or $2000 spaces too- if you need to budget, just cut down on puzzle lengths).

    I’d also brighten the set a little…The Spanish version of WOF I’d consider a good model (and change the font on the wheel spaces to the one they use- it’s a little thing, but it just looks dated to me)

    And the biggest thing- Pat and Vanna need to set a retirement date. Trebek is probably done in 2016, so maybe they go to 2017, but no further. Maybe try out some new blood somehow- if Sports Jeopardy works out, maybe they do Sports Wheel or something…

  22. Your host and hostess have been consistently pulling in high ratings for 631 years. You’d kill the golden goose of name recognition and branding for the sake of change?

  23. ooboh

    Because there’s more risk. And I find risk on a game show interesting.

  24. John Holder

    Dump the Prize Puzzle and the winner of the game automatically gets a trip.

  25. John Holder

    Dump the Prize Puzzle and the winner of the game automatically gets a trip.

  26. Bryan Deng

    I hope Harry Friedman will bring back the $750, $850, $1250, and $1500 wedges, and debut the $950 wedge.

  27. John Holder

    I love the returning champions idea, but then I’m biased because I won big and I wanted more than one chance to play. They always had returning champs on the daytime version, and for several years in nighttime. Apparently, there are a couple of reasons why they don’t do that now. One, the demand to be a contestant is so big they want to give as many people as possible the chance to play. Two, they tape the weeks out of air date order so they can produce theme weeks with similar sets together. For example, when I taped in 2004, they did the Halloween week shows one day, made some minor decorative changes to the suburban-neighborhood set (swapping out jack o’lanterns and witches for snow and wreaths) and did the Christmas week shows the next day. Unless you want every show to be “America’s Game” like the sixth shows they tape some weeks and run later in the season, the production schedule for theme weeks rules out returning champions. Game-wise? More money directly on the wheel and fewer gimmicks. I wonder if they could play four full rounds (no Speed-Up) if they dumped the Toss-Ups and the promotional stuff that isn’t relevant to gameplay. I responded to another comment by saying that the Prize Puzzle should be replaced with a trip automatically being awarded to the game winner. One, the value of the trip doesn’t affect the outcome of the game, and two, they can stop having to come up with a puzzle like ENJOYING THE SUN AND FUN for every show.

  28. Michael

    1. I would say raise the price for vowels to $500 just to even with the dollar values on the wheel.

    2. I want to see more Million Dollar winners, but maybe find some ways to encourage people to spin the wheel more. Prize puzzles always interfere with the players, because they solve the puzzle too early (Just an idea).

    3. Returning Champions is NOT going to work. Wheel is fine without it. I’m okay with the having “Friday Finals”, but don’t bring back returning champions. I understand you fans want it back, but think about it first. What happens if game shows reached it’s final episode, then what happens? Are you one away from the car, are you the new champion, or how many days do you need to win the grand prize? What happens if the champion is sick or absent? In short, how are you going to resolve the outcome in the future? With returning champions, it is unpredictable.

    4. Move the Express Wedge to Round 1 to prevent Prize Puzzle cluster, and maybe drop it down to $500 (No big deal, just a suggestion).

    That’s just my opinion, but I’m sure Wheel is doing just fine. Maybe some minor changes, but right now the show is not hurting itself.

  29. Damien W

    Wheel of Fortune is comfort food for a particular generation. Real changes won’t be made until that generation literally dies off (or Sajak does first). When that happens, the producers will seek out features that represent comfort food for the next generation, meaning reality TV addicts. This means contestants will be nasty to each other and sleep with each other’s manses.

  30. ImHomerJay

    I’d be shocked if there are many people at Sony Pictures who are all that concerned. First, when selling national advertisers on a Jeopardy/Wheel combo advertising buy, the numbers are going to be better than Feud, given the way the double runs are calculated. Second, at the station level, in the instances where the shows go head to head, that’s about the only time it matters.

    Feud’s rise seems to have come more at the expense of sitcoms, really. It got its big break taking over slots long held by off-network repeats in many markets, and it’s been a brilliant strategy. The appeal is different, the demographics are different. Sure, there’s overlap, but it’s more like a Ven diagram.

    For 30+ years in syndication, Wheel’s performance remains exceptional. It has suffered erosion on par with what you’d expect from any show on broadcast given the age, and that when it debuted (in syndication for simplicity), there were vastly fewer TV choices (not to mention DVRs, video on demand, Roku/Chromecast and the like).

    One show doing well doesn’t mean there’s a sudden need for a dramatic overhaul of another. The Wheel appeal may not lie in being fresh, but in being comfort food with periodic minor adjustments to the recipe.

  31. Jon Mann

    Here are my suggestions:

    1. Reduce toss-ups to two to the player who starts rounds 1 and 4.
    2. Raise vowels to $500.
    3. Add a $750, $950, $1000, $1250, $1500.
    4. Mystery Round: use other prizes other than $10,000 (like smart cars)
    5. Big Money Spaces: $2,500, $3,500, $5,000. In Rounds 1-3 respectively.
    6. Bring back the Surprise wedge, but use it only for the prize puzzle round. To win the prize associated with the puzzle, a contestant must land on the Surprise wedge, and solve the puzzle.
    7. Round 4 and beyond: Everything on the wheel doubles. I call it The Big Money Round.
    8. Bonus Round: add more bonus envelopes $55,000-$75,000. Add a second $100,000 envelope.
    9. Dream Car Week or Publishers Clearing House.
    10. Return of Friday Finals and/or do a monthly Tournament.

  32. Trevorton Thompson

    I agree, the Prize Puzzle should be dumped because for about 95% of the time, it decided who won the game.

    The set is long overdue for a redesign. They’ve had those blue light borders around the wheel, screens, and puzzle board since 2004.

    There should only be two Toss-Ups per game. The $1,000 Toss Up is meaningless.

  33. PriceRight89 .

    How Wheel has gotten away with two Toss-Ups before the game begins I’ll never know.

    The Prize Puzzles are vapid and even the show knows with puzzles such as TELL ME WHERE I’M GOING PAT.

    The daytime show had $1,500 and $2,000 on the wheel at the same time throughout the 1980s. With two “special” $1,000-spaces and three $900-spaces, why is the show so reluctant to put permanent four-digit amounts on the wheel?

  34. MarioGS

    1: Agreed. If anything but scrapping it, I’d move it to R1 so that it doesn’t skyrocket scores so late in the game and also make the prizes less expensive, like maybe start at $3,000 instead of $6,000. Not to mention the puzzles for it are often something ridiculously contrived like “AN AMAZING AND EXHILARATING ISLAND GETAWAY” and such.

    2: I’m OK with two Toss-Ups, but the $1,000 one is pretty much redundant especially on team weeks with the $1,000/$2,000 house minimums. I think the Toss-Up that’s most important is the third one because since there is a minimum of four rounds, that often means only one contestant gets to start two rounds, and before Toss-Ups, this was an unfair advantage for the red and sometimes yellow players. I wouldn’t mind if they had a rule like Jeopardy! where the lowest scorer after R3 starts R4.

    3: I’m perfectly OK with the overall look of the Wheel itself in terms of its numbers and colors. It’s appealing enough. I do have a problem with the arrangement of values, however. $500-$900 (with $250 vowels) is a joke, in my opinion.

  35. MarioGS

    The blue borders actually have the ability to be any color desired but they don’t do this anymore, at least not during the game. I wish they would. We could use an orange Wheel border for Halloween week.

  36. Mark Maziarz

    Here’s my 2 cents (actually it’s 5 cents — one cent for each thought):

    (1) Higher, more varied, cash denominations on the wheel.

    (2) Use innovative technology to make the wheel display LED (digital), so the
    dollar amounts can be changed easily from round to round.
    Perhaps even include a “Doubler/Tripler” wedge that, when landed on, will instantly double or triple all of the dollar values on the wheel in that particular round.

    (3) Increase the price of vowels. Keeping them at $250 when the minimum amount on the wheel is $500 doesn’t make sense.

    (4) Lose the “Toss Up” puzzles. They go against the whole “Wheel” premise and are not needed if you do #1 and #2. While you’re at it, lose the prize puzzles. Others have already explained how winning a $8,000+ trip in round 3 when there often isn’t time to play a regular Round 4 pretty much ensures that the winner of the prize is the winner of the game.

    (5) Say “goodbye” to Pat. As others have said, it’s VERY CLEAR that this has now become a job for him and his enthusiasm is just not there anymore. In fact, on a few shows now, he’s said something like “Well, here we are again.” when he walks out to the stage with Vanna. Unenthusiastic host = unenthusiastic viewers.

    I’m sure I would be able to come up with more, but that’s all for now.

  37. ElectricGypsy

    I wondered why there were so few suggestions for a new host/hostess, but the more I thought about it the more I realized that some comedian looking for a steady paycheck (i.e. Steve Harvey, Drew Carey, Howie Mandel) isn’t going to bring a significant increase in viewership. People, including me, may be tired of Sajak, but I doubt bringing in a Ryan Secrest or anyone else in the world of broadcasting or comedy is gonna make a big difference.

  38. Yes, it’s interesting, but it upsets Grandma when the contestant loses $4600. Grandma stops watching when people keep getting their winnings wiped out on a supposed-to-be-happy gameshow.

  39. Josh Woo

    Gameplay wise, I don’t really think there’s anything they CAN do to bring in more viewers. I don’t think the average viewer would care terribly if they went from three Toss-ups to two, or if the Wheel suddenly had a proliferation of $1500 spaces.

    What I think they can (and should) do is to bring in players than went viral (New Baby Buggy, Aychill-us, and Corno Curro Cabinet come to mind). Because who wouldn’t want to watch the same guy make the same mistake twice (or, indeed, the same incredible feat twice)?

  40. zjzr

    First of all: scrap Prize Puzzle! It is the scourge of WoF, and with the slightly unrisky moves certain players have lately (especially when you see that there are 2 2/3 Bankrupts in the Wheel, 3 2/3 if you consider Mystery/Express Wedge gamble), usually the PP (ranges usually from 5000-9000 from what I know) they are enough to say who wins. Not only that, PP puzzles are usually longer than at least one other round, meaning that sometimes one good round without the help of non-regular wedges might not be enough to usurp whoever wins the PP. What is worse now is that it coincides with the Express Round which means whoever wins the Express wins the PP and usually makes an almost unassailable lead.

    Second: I agree too that increasing the base values would be good. I think that with inflation it looks tiny now compared to say 20 years ago, and as they said if the daytime version has four-digit wedges why not now? Make one of 1000, 1250, 1500 each with also a 950 which makes sense with how the minimum now is 500. A current range of 500-900 seems very small without much variation and maybe they could make the minimum 300 again if they would put four-digit regular wedges in the game to offset the cost.

    Third: Make the highest value at R4+ more than 5000 like 6000, 7500 or 8500. The double value bonus in the last rounds seem interesting, but with the wheel utilizing just one template kind of prevents it. I wonder if the LED suggestion could actually work — make the wheel digital, and change the values every round and replace cardboard with a display in the big digital wheel that “disappears” when called correctly and put the prizes/”tags” the player earned in the digital scoreboard instead (although the downside is the fun of removing cardboards on the Wheel).

    Fourth: I think the progressive vowel buying cost could be effective in that it takes a strategy of having to buy an effective vowel early on because it costs less — starting at $500/$750 then increasing it by $500 each vowel might be effective.

    Fifth: I think there should be non-vacation prizes too in the Wheel. I mean, there are entertainment showcases and some other packages that could be used. How about in the Bonus Wheel have that too and a prize that makes the player have an option to return in the next episode if regular returning players are deemed to be impractical? I wonder if they could do tournament style Wheel that can be done in many weeks to also bring returning players?

  41. Greg

    A little late to the party, but an idea I just had: a “Challenge” wedge.

    Land on the spot, you pick up a Challenge card upon a successful letter guess. At any time later in the game, during your turn, you can challenge an opponent to solve a puzzle. If the opponent cannot solve it, you get all their money and whatever bonuses they hold (Wild Card, 1/2 Car, MDW). But if they do solve it, they not only bank what they have, but also take your stuff as well.

    Another idea: for the Toss-Ups, start a puzzle at $2000/$4000/$6000, then knock some off the longer it takes to solve it.

  42. Donald Lee

    Maybe fire the host for starters?

  43. TheOriginalDonald

    why not replace Vanna with Kate Upton while we’re at it? 😛

  44. TheOriginalDonald

    MOre importantly, No Pat=No Vanna

  45. Afi Keita James

    that’s right, but keep the sleek shiny black floor, it’s much beautiful and reflective.

  46. Chris

    I think only two toss-ups are ok in my book. As for the set, the wheel looks ok, but I would revise the wheel’s base so that the lighting is more modern. They should also try a Tournament of Champions in the same format as Jeopardy!.

  47. Joshuah Rutten

    So here is what I am thinking:
    1. Don’t wipe the scores after each round: I am taking this from MDWOF. Make it to where the money/prizes stay in your podium until you solve or Bankrupt.
    2. Have the Original Free Spin Return: Again MDWOF. Have the free spin return and where you can have multiple free spins. But you call a letter after for $500 to keep playing.
    3. Vowels need to be $500 or higher.

  48. MartS

    Good question. From the other side of the Atlantic here’s my take.

    Fantasically bored on a day off from work recently, I hit You Tube to overdose myself on US gameshows down the years.

    I started with the one’s that made it over here to see how you guys made the originals.
    I eventually came up on a few episodes of Wheel Of Fortune from the past couple of decades, and at times looking at the most recent broadcast editions uploaded, I had to read the date in the title – nothing much had changed in terms of style, gameplay and set in over 20 years. Knowing how brutal American television can be for ideas/formats that outstay their welcome, I struggled to work out how this show is still on the air. It must be some kind of ‘comfort blanket’ to the regular set of viewers, that hit the advertiser demographic so flush, the producers don’t want to upset it.

    We had a tv review website (now defunct) over here, and years before Masterchef became the international formatted hit it became, it was a rather low budget housewife friendly cookery competiton, spending its 20 week run after 20 week run on a early Sunday evening.
    But, that show – like Wheel – was stuck in a rut and no-one didn’t want to do anything about it. The reviewer said things had got so predictable you know what camera angles and camera cuts were coming next.

    I would argue this are the same issues that Wheel Of Fortune has.

    What can be done? Well most of the problems it has have been addressed by previous posters.
    I don’t think the host is the problem. Pat is fairly competent, friendly, and what you need. Vanna though, seems to loose purpose after everyone has appluded her outfit, and becomes a perma-grin presence seen in longshot during the main gameplay. Anyone thought about giving her the presenter role for the occasional week every now and then? Liven it up a bit.

    Agree the theme needs more energy, and the set and wheel needs a bit of a revamp.
    Actually, with the wheel, I’d ditch the printed figure segments, and have it all LED – that way, when you introduce a new prize money/penalty/prize segments you can animate it on in front of the viewer, rather than see it ‘just appear’ since the last round before the commercials.

    Gameplay. Too many bonus rounds, super money rounds, double prize rounds added complicate it. Keep it simple. The game should always be spin the wheel – see the amount, shout a letter, solve the board. Adding ‘stunt’ rounds just dilute and detract from what Wheel is all about.

    Just my thoughts. Thanks for reading.

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