In search of the big prize

A new Marketing Week survey points to a potential quiz show overload, despite ITV’s first millionaire winner

New research carried out for Marketing Week by OMD Snapshot reveals that nearly half of TV viewers feel there are too many quiz shows on TV.

The research, by OMD UK’s new weekly Internet survey Snapshots, asked 2,500 Internet users questions about quiz shows in the light of the first million-pound winner on ITV’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire.

The results show the UK is experiencing TV quiz-show overload, with 50 per cent of the panel feeling there are too many quiz shows on TV nowadays.

Who Wants to be a Millionaire pulled 14.9 million viewers – 50.5 per cent audience share – for the edition featuring its first million-pound winner in the two years since launch.

The survey reveals a pre-show awareness rate of 73 per cent – among regular viewers – that there had been a big winner. Those that don’t watch the show indicated a lower awareness rate of 62 per cent.

The programme makers generated an enormous amount of pre-show PR, pulling in significantly more viewers.

When panellists who were already aware that there had been a big-prize winner were asked whether this made them more likely to watch the programme on Monday, 43 per cent agreed that this was so.

But 16 per cent of the viewers claimed that they were less likely to watch the show now that there was a &£1m winner.

So is it the big prize that attracts audiences to TV quiz shows? Not so, according to the Snapshots panel: only 26 per cent agree that shows offering big prizes make them more likely to view.

The broadcaster utilises the flexibility of Millionaire’s format. It can air 30-minute or 60-minute editions and move the programme around the schedule with ease. It has proved a sure-fire ratings winner.

The BBC has retaliated with its own quiz show, The Weakest Link, fronted by Anne Robinson and put up its biggest ever prize fund so far of &£20,000.

But viewers may not welcome more quiz shows emulating Millionaire’s success and they may even lose interest in the ITV show now it has made its first millionaire.

Even though the BBC has The Weakest Link, will it be enough to keep the interest of a public used to The National Lottery’s weekly draws and Millionaire?

The research contradicts popular media opinion that Millionaire has had its day after creating its first millionaire. The number lured to watch the show by big prizes is relatively small.

The challenge facing programme makers is to produce shows with a massive standout which can defeat quiz-show overload.

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