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Did the Producers of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” Make A Mistake By Extending The Game Show To an Hour?

We’ve all had our share of favorite game shows throughout the years. From The Price is Right, Jeopardy, and Wheel of Fortune, who can forget the famous Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. But did you know what happened before the show got canceled?

The game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” had an estimated amount of 30 million viewers each night. ABC decided to extend the show to an hour-long event every weekend, and the ratings went down. The show eventually got canceled in 2002.

What Was The Show About?

The show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire is a television game show quite popular in both the US and the UK. The British version of the show was created by David Briggs, Steven Knight, and Mike Whitehill. When the United States adopted the show, Michael Davies developed the show based on the UK version.

The show is a quiz-like competition with the contestants trying their best to win $1 million. The questions get more difficult as the game progresses, but there have been quite a number of winners.

The show had been so successful that there are dozens of international versions of the game show. Until today, there are franchises of the show running. (Source: Embassy Row)

The US Franchise

The game show was first conceived in the US back in 1998. At the time, Michael Davies was a young TV producer working as the head of ABC’s reality program division.

In those days, ABC was ranking in third place and was desperate to keep its status as one of the Three Big Networks. With game shows at their all-time low, the network wasn’t too keen on supporting Davies with his new endeavor.

Initially, Davies wanted to revive CBS’s The $64,000 Question, but he had heard about the British’s Millionaire show. He had family from the UK send him copies of the show, and needless to say, he was captivated.

He presented his idea to the network and was rejected. He was determined to see the show through, so he resigned and became an independent producer. Davies bet his entire career on the show’s production and got to work as soon as he could. (Source: So You’d Like to Win A Million)

How Did Davies Pick Out the Host?

As part of planning the show, Davies needed to find the perfect host. He truly admired the work of Chris Tarrant in the UK version. Several celebrities he considered for the job; Montel Williams, Bob Costas, Phil Donahue, Peter Jennings, and Regis Philbin.

Of all those picked, Philbin wanted the job the most. He had seen an episode of the UK’s show and was blown away. When Davies hired Philbin for the job, they brought back the idea to ABC, who accepted the proposal. (Source: Embassy Row)

What Caused the Show’s Downfall?

From the show’s conception in the late 90s, it has garnered quite the viewing. The nighttime airing of the show drew up 30 million viewers. It was completely unheard of! Needless to say, the show was doing great.

By the year 2000, the show was losing its popularity after the network decided to run it for an hour. Since ABC relied on the show’s popularity, it fell from their nation’s most-watched network list.

The overexposure of the show discouraged the public and had them get tired of the show. They tried to save the show, but it was canceled anyway. (Source: TV Series Finale)

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