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Make That ‘GSN’

Jan 12, 2004  •  Post A Comment

After weeks of second-guessing among cable insiders about the Game Show Network’s rebranding, the network last week revealed its new name: GSN.
“During the last two years we brainstormed dozens of names-Game TV, Gamevision-a lot of names with the word `game’ in them. GSN made the most sense,” said network president and CEO Rich Cronin. “We’re already referred to as GSN by viewers and in the press.”
With the name change, the network is seeking to become a network for all types of games-including reality shows and casino gaming. The announcement followed the departure of executive Bob Boden, a longtime expert on traditional game shows. Though the network will still run game show fare, the “G-S” of GSN is something Mr. Cronin hopes to de-emphasize.
“There’s a long history of success in shifting to letters-nobody remembers VH1 was once Video Hits 1,” he said. “The Learning Channel became `TLC’ and American Movie Classics became `AMC.”’
However, Mr. Cronin is hoping to avoid entanglements with cable operators such as those experienced by AMC due to a name-change and content shift (TelevisionWeek, Dec. 8, 2003). GSN’s move could cause a showdown with Time Warner-which has been a content-clause stickler-and with Comcast, which could try sheltering its gaming network, G4, from competition.
“Cable operators need to know is that it’s an evolution,” Mr. Cronin said. “It’s an expansion of Game Show Network. So it’s not the kind of situation where networks make a drastic change; this is really an evolution.”
Others are not sure. Ray Dundas, senior VP, group director, national broadcast, for Initiative, said, “If a network’s initial programming format does somewhat resonate with viewers, and if they change to other forms of programming that are not in tune with original programming, it might not be wise.”
He singled out a blackjack show GSN is developing in particular. “If they’re looking to focus more on the gaming industry, that’s a radical change,” he said.
Mr. Cronin said the changes will be supported by a consumer campaign that will launch at the end of the month-including spots on cable channels, radio and online.