Twentieth Banks on 'Temptation’

Game show promises dual revenue stream

Charged with boosting revenues to compensate for ratings losses that have humbled the first-run syndication business, Twentieth Television is pinning its fall hopes on FremantleMedia North America’s Temptation.

The game show, blending pop-trivia questions with elements of The Price Is Right and Deal or No Deal, will offer Twentieth an additional revenue stream by allowing viewers to acquire merchandise over the Web or by phone at significant discounts.

If Twentieth succeeds with the home-shopping format, intended to fuel product integration and engage viewers, it could generate enough revenue to produce extra original episodes of the game show.

Either way, the format will give the producers the critical ability to keep the reruns fresh, according to Paul Buccieri, president of programming for Twentieth.

“We’re producing 34 weeks of originals, and we are looking to up [that total],” he says. “We think it is a really good show that works economically. People like seeing original shows, and we have the ability to change the [one or two] home-shopping products featured in each episode for the reruns.”


Syndicators have been desperately seeking alternatives, like Temptation, to provide more original year-round programming. In recent years, the business has seen steady ratings declines, partly because it cannot afford to produce as many originals, which has led to a vicious cycle.

To save costs, suppliers generally forego producing originals for the lower-viewing summer months, except for live talk shows like Live With Regis and Kelly and, occasionally, taped powerhouses like Dr. Phil.

Unlike broadcast and cable networks, which can rest a show over the summer or air limited runs, syndicators are required to sell their shows so that stations can fill up their weekday schedules year-round. That means higher costs for syndicators.

At deadline, 202 stations in nearly 97% of the country had licensed numerous double runs of Temptation, primarily for daytime and early-fringe slots.

The game show will get an extra boost on Sept. 5 when Twentieth sibling MyNetworkTV airs two half-hour episodes back-to-back in prime prior to its Sept. 10 first-run debut.

Temptation represents a departure for Twentieth, which has been heavily reliant on the economical court genre. In some instances, it has been forced to cannibalize double-run time periods of its own programs (Divorce Court, Judge Alex and Cristina’s Court) to get its new shows launched in the crowded field.

“That is always an issue when you have as much product as we do,” says Twentieth President/COO Bob Cook. “That was one of the reasons we decided not bring out another court show for the fall. We already have three out there, and we thought, if we brought another one, we could run into that. It is always something that you have to think about. Now our goal is to create game blocks. We have quite a few other games in development.”

With Temptation, based on FremantleMedia’s global-format Sale of the Century, the producers have given it a more contemporary feel by having contestants answer questions they would know from reading People or Us.

Host Rossi Morreale will tempt them to spend their winnings on high-end prizes, risking their chances for victory. Viewers will have a chance to buy the more affordable merchandise seen on the show at discounted prices.

“We’re trying to position it as the new Sale of the Century, but we want to take it into the next century,” Cook says. “There are so many choices out in the marketplace, we want to make sure we are not alienating advertisers. This game gives us a larger bite.”