Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Bob Boden’s online video tutorial has ideas that might help you make money by creating a TV game show.
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.
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.