Aug 13

Make money by creating a TV game show format

Reading Time: 6 mins

TV companies are always looking for interesting programmes to keep their audience entertained.

If you are the creative type, you can make money by creating a TV game show format.

This is because these programmes are in high demand and really successful ones, like ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire’, can make millions for the TV company and, over time, for the person, or team, who came up with the idea.

Be warned, though, a good format is a remarkably difficult concept to come up with. Even professionals can take years to create a good one. But if you’re a game show fanatic, you could be in a good position to come up with an idea.

What’s involved in coming up with a TV game show format?


Make money by creating a TV game show format

Basically, you have to think up an idea and sell it – easy money.

Well, unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it sounds to make money by creating a TV show format.

To be honest, this is a very hard industry to break into, but IF you can come up with a good idea and hone it into a killer format, you may not have to work – ever again. To break into this industry, you need a lot of patience, and you must be very persistent.

You will spend a lot of time contacting production companies and probably never get a reply. Indies (independent companies) can be impossible to contact, will refuse unsolicited submissions, sit on your ideas for months, or quite possibly steal the best bits. Proving any of this later is, of course, virtually impossible.

Even if you get your foot in the door, there is no guarantee that you will ever come up with a winner. It can be a depressing business. It could take you years of trying and failing to come up with an idea that is even optioned, let alone bought.

If you’re the creative type though and have a passion for game shows, give it a go – you won’t know if you don’t try.


How do you make money by creating a TV game show format?

Make money by creating a TV game show format

Step 1: Brain storm!

This is a great excuse to watch TV in the name of research and making money! Study some popular game shows. Watch them regularly and work out what their basic elements are and what makes them work. The idea should be simple but fun. See if you can find an ‘ideas buddy’ with whom you can brainstorm and come up with formats together.

Putting a bit of reality into the game show, and vice versa, has opened up the game show format to more than the traditional three podium format. There is an endless variety of elements you can include in a game show – you just need to find the right ones that click. Dramatic tension seems to be one thing that makes a great game show, especially at key moments of choice for the contestant.

To really have a chance to make money by creating a TV game show format though, you need to let go of all your pre-conceived ideas of what a TV game show is, let go of traditional ideas and invent new ways of giving audiences entertainment programmes.

There are books and websites with tips on how to come up with a winning format. Try the Game Show Handbook, or this 7 step guide to making your own TV show for more ideas.

Step 2: Target production companies

Once you’ve got your idea, look at the channel’s website, or simply the closing credits of the show to see which production companies have made the most popular game shows. Target these with your idea.

Experience is the most valuable way to learn about what ideas companies will buy and produce. Regardless of whether your ideas are purchased, each time you pitch to executives in the industry you are building relationships with people who you can contact later and talk about how to make your ideas work.

Step 3: Presentation

Producers are busy people, so to ensure your script gets read, format it into a brief synopsis with a highly marketable ‘logline’. You should be able to fit the description of it onto no more than one A4 sheet. Hone it down to the simple rules and a few gimmicks and send it to TV production companies.

With your full script, ensure you have these headings:

  • Title of the show
  • Format of the show – Game Show
  • Author Name
  • Logline – a few sentences to describe your concept
  • Treatment – Synopsis or Outline. This is a detailed description of your show as it would be seen on TV, to interest or provoke the reader make sure you ‘show’ the reader what the audience is watching.

Bob Boden’s online video tutorial has ideas that might help you make money by creating a TV game show.


Case study: Hugh Rycroft – co-creator of Tipping point

Make money by creating a TV game show format

Hugh Rycroft, one of the creative minds behind the popular ITV game show Tipping Point found inspiration for his game show format whilst visiting a seaside arcade in 2003.

Hugh acknowledges that the game show industry itself is a tiny market and a very hard one to succeed in, “I estimate that fewer than 30 new game shows appear on British TV in any given year, out of the (literally) thousands of ideas that are generated… Having said this, in the specific case of ‘Tipping Point’, the fact that it DID finally end up on TV 9 years after I first had the idea suggests that persistence can pay off!”

So if you really think you have a great idea and you are serious about wanting to make money by creating a TV game show format, you have to be patient and persistent.


Tips from an expert in creating a TV game show format

  • For a complete TV ‘outsider’, by far the most important things will be to network with TV people. The best idea in the world will never make it onto TV if it never lands on the right desk! Not all production companies will look at unsolicited material, so write to them first before sending your idea, or check out their website.
  • Remember, a single, big slightly whacky or left-field concept, even if it’s not particularly well thought through, is far more likely to get someone’s attention than a show relying on more traditional game show themes, which development teams can think up in their sleep!
  • If you do find a production company that likes your idea, be open to them playing around and changing the concept, because on the whole these people do know what they’re talking about.
  • Persistence can certainly pay off – TV is littered with examples of things that were turned down dozens of times beforet hey became huge hits. Ideas can be rejected for all sorts of reasons, so keep trying. Likewise, if you keep trying you might succeed and make money by creating a TV show format.
  • Finally, for a complete beginner, the best pitch advice is to keep it simple. What you’re trying to sell is the unique and brilliant core concept at the heart of your show. Good luck!


How much can you make?

Make money by creating a TV game show format

As we’ve mentioned above, managing to make money by creating a TV game show format is a tricky business, so we wouldn’t advise you to give up your day job yet.

HOWEVER if you come up with a winning idea, the sky’s the limit!

It’s a very difficult industry to crack but if you really do love game shows and have the passion to commit and persist who knows what might happen. Just remember it often takes 40, 50 or even 100 ideas to be pitched before a TV station will consider buying one!

Regardless, once they buy it, you are in to earn big bucks because they pay an upfront fee ranging from $500 to 10,000 based on the show. Likewise, you may get a set-up bonus depending on how well you negotiate. There is also an on-stage credit standard fees and nominal percentage from the fees paid to the production company. The major income for you, however, comes from episodic fees, which is a percentage of the budget per episode. It ranges from 2-5% but is negotiable.



  • PACT – The association of Independent producers, where you can find most of the contact details you need.
  • Labyrinth Games – Puzzle and games consultancy behind many successful shows.
  • – A Production company, now owned by Sony, that distributes Who Wants To Be A Millionaire in the UK, USA and other countries.
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rafael e reyes
rafael e reyes
27 days ago

I seen your post and I have an idea for a gameshow its called
Pseudoscience life
Its a question and answer show
On the knowledge of pseudoscience
I am sorry I don’t have an agent but this is the best I could do
The idea isn’t copywritten so its yours for the taken

Ian Aldourie Chisholm
Ian Aldourie Chisholm
3 months ago

Lots of people claim they have It, but very few really have it. I have it. I have had it for several years. It is only now that I have perfected it. It is called “Take Your Seat for the Ultimate Quiz.” I have not tried to get anyone to listen yet, because I have previously found it quite impossible. If someone is out there, listening, then I would welcome contact

3 months ago

Can someone please tell me how to copyright my idea and deck? How to copyright a tv game show? I have a game show to protect. Besides poor mans copyright or emailing the idea back to myself. Any help 4 me.

1 month ago
Reply to  Ego

Unfortunately there is no copyright in ideas

Cordially Invite
Cordially Invite
4 months ago

A game show where 4 contestants all start out with 1 million dollars. They answer questions on a board for certain amounts of money. If they answer it right, they dont earn anything, if they are wrong, that amount is subtracted from their million. This way it is just as hard to win 1 mil but not impossible. Can I earn money on this? lol

7 months ago

They should make one where they gather like 3-4 people and have them buy something from the dollar store, then see who can sell it for the most money at a pawn shop.

7 months ago
Reply to  Max

Great idea – write it up!

Annelle DiSanto
1 year ago

Serious question! How can we find an agent who will pitch our game show? We have a deck completed had a lame producer and it’s gone nowhere. We have emailed several to have no returns at all. Thanks.

Shavonne George
1 year ago

They should come up with a game called who knows me better my spouse or my bestfriend

Marc Crosby
Marc Crosby
1 year ago

Haha, love it. Sounds like it could lead to a few arguments!

kevin walker
kevin walker
1 year ago

I have loads of ideas combining different gameshows into one. I have sent formats to many agents and producers but no comeback. I would be interested in combining ideas within a group system.

ROCHELLE Armstrong-Suber

could someone email me about how to find a place to send my new game show I created. I want to sell my game show.

1 year ago

Hi dan I’ve got lots of ideas to and if you read above one was stolen from me maybe if we join together as co creators on new fresh ideas together and two I’m creating at the moment maybe two people is better then one, maybe even produce these our self’s anyway get in contact

kevin walker
kevin walker
1 year ago
Reply to  Geoff

Are you still looking for co creators.

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