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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.
  • 2waytraffic.com – 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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4 years ago

The problem I have is the computer I had the copy of the letter I wrote crashed and could not be repaired so could not get copy of the original letter I send only a lie detector test could prove this,they been ignoring my letters ever since ,

4 years ago

I’ve written two more shows which I Want to get out there but because you stole my idea iim holding back , one of them will be much bigger then tipping point I’m willing to share this if u admit to stealing my other show and will accept a co producer on my new show if u contact me or I will go to sky and let them produce it your choice , I will also go the papers requesting a live lie detector test to prove I’m actually telling the truth here,

4 years ago

Your a lieing xxxxxx you stole the idea from me after I sent your company a letter in 2011 saying I came up with the idea in rhyl in 2008 and called it tipping point you then said you came up with it your self but at an earlier date which is a total lies, I’m willing to do a lie detector test live on tv to prove this are you , contact me as you have ignored my letters to your company for 7 years now let’s settle this once and for all . Do a lie detector test… Read more »

Tonja Gore
Tonja Gore
4 years ago

I have a game show idea who do.I CONTACT

4 years ago

Hello, thanks for this. I also have created several game show formats along with the graphics, game play, branding and sound effects. I have trialled them many times in public places such as shopping centres and everybody has responded very positively and said my formats would be great on TV. Is there somebody that could contact me please?

kevin walker
kevin walker
5 years ago

Hi, I have an idea for a reality based game show that could end up competing with I’M A CELEBRITY.
It would combine different concepts from game shows to make a new unique experience from combining old ideas.

5 years ago
Reply to  kevin walker

Sounds clever. Write it up and send it to a few production companies that do game shows. See what they say

sunny arora
sunny arora
6 years ago

Respected sir,
I have an idea for quiz competition t.v show by this game i will connected all india.

its a very different & interesting game.

so please call me 9198900414

7 years ago

I send you this idea by letter and the Name tipping point for tjhe show to RDF televison back in 2011 and still not recived any thing or heard from you if you look back at your records your see the name tipping point was my idea.
would like you to contact me about this as its not fair

Marc Crosby
Marc Crosby
7 years ago
Reply to  geoff

It would probably be a good idea to seek some legal advice.

It will depend on how much of the idea you came up with and what you can prove.

Worth looking into if you think you have a good case.

johnathon Jamison
johnathon Jamison
7 years ago

My show mixes reality with game show and will innovate the market of televised game shows. Who can I speak with regarding getting this show in the right hands?

Jim Campbell
Jim Campbell
8 years ago

Hi, I have an idea for a new Game Show / Quiz show. Who can I sent my idea to for review?

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