General News

ABC's "Millionaire" faces uncertain future

Nov 29, 2001 | 12:26pm EST

The television game show that once propelled ABC to the top of the ratings may not be back next fall.

Lloyd Braun, co-chairman of ABC Entertainment Television Group, told reporters during a conference call that the future of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire is "unsure."

"I'd like to think that there'll be a place on our schedule for that show...But at the same time, I'm not going to tell you there will be any guarantees. We cannot say with certainty that Millionaire is going to be on the fall schedule," Braun said.

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire was one of the hottest shows on television two years ago, placing ABC at the top of the ratings during the 1999-2000 TV season. In its first season alone, Millionaire drew an average audience of 27.9 million viewers and made host Regis Philbin a prime-time star. The network then began airing the show four, and sometimes five, times a week.

Though the show still attracted a significant amount of viewers in the 2000-2001 season, the numbers have declined sharply. In its current fall schedule, the alphabet network is airing the show only twice a week, on Monday and Thursday nights. Last week, one edition of Millionaire placed 40th in the ratings and the other 72nd, Reuters reports.

Analysts claim the show's rise and fall was perpetuated by ABC's overexposure of the program. The show gained popularity because of its freshness, but faded when the bloom fell off the rose.

Matt Roush, a senior critic at TV Guide, told Reuters, "It's the classic example of TV taking a genuine hit and milking it instantly dry. They overused it. They used it like a club, and it came back to club them when the novelty wore off the show, which was bound to happen with the excess exposure."

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