Logo

TV Show Producers Play the Video Game

Mar 16, 2008  •  Post A Comment

When Showtime announced earlier this month that it was working with Mark Ecko Entertainment to make a video game based on the drama “Dexter,” the responses on the Wired blog where the announcement was posted were lukewarm at best.
“I’ve read all three books—very thought-provoking stuff,” wrote “Scott” on the blog last week, referring to the book series that inspired the show about the crime analyst-turned-serial killer. “One thought that was not provoked was, ‘Dude, this would make an AWESOME game!’”
Many show creators are willing to take a chance on gaming, however. TV producers and game developers are teaming up to feed a surging video game industry by developing games based on characters already familiar to the TV viewing audience. Kids content producers such as Nickelodeon started licensing shows like “SpongeBob SquarePants” almost a decade ago, while producers of the “Law & Order” crime drama franchise started doing the same about six years ago.
Financially, game development is a relatively low-risk way to cash in on a TV show’s popularity. Producers can sit back and collect license fees in the $2 million to $3 million range while game developers, who in addition to license fees may spend another $2 million to $3 million to produce a game, can recoup their investment by selling a few hundred thousand units.
“The games make money, since they don’t cost much to make,” said Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter, who covers game developers Electronic Arts and THQ, among other companies. “‘American Idol’ has been a solid seller, as has ‘CSI,’ and ‘Lost’ is a new release. None of these sell more than 1 million units.”
Developers such as Vivendi Universal and Konami Digital Entertainment don’t break out specific sales of titles based on “Law & Order” and “American Idol,” respectively. “CSI” may be the most consistent performer of the mini-genre, grossing about $31 million since Paris-based Ubisoft began developing its titles in 2003, according to Anita Frazier, toys and video games industry analyst for NPD Group.
“Most TV-licensed games have been those aimed at kids 12 and under,” said Ms. Frazier, pointing to Walt Disney’s “Hannah Montana,” “High School Musical” and Fox’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” as examples of TV-based games that cracked the list of the U.S.’ 100 best-selling titles last year. “That said, there has been modest success among prime-time television series-based games including ‘CSI,’ ‘Law & Order’ and ‘Survivor,’ to name a few.”
Still, “CSI’s” total sales are far short of the revenue generated by the 20 million units video game producer THQ has shipped of “SpongeBob SquarePants” titles since licensing the rights from Nickelodeon in 2001, and likely less than other pre-teen titles such as “Rugrats” and “Jimmy Neutron,” which each sell about 2 million units a year, Mr. Pachter said. And while “CSI” and “American Idol” titles have sold consistently, “24: The Game,” which Sony’s Cambridge Studios developed in 2006 based on the Kiefer Sutherland series, “was a disaster,” Mr. Pachter said.
Producers and developers are trying to cash in on a market that has thrived as other forms of entertainment such as music sales have stalled. Last year, U.S. consumers bought $9.5 billion worth of video games, up 28% from 2006, according to NPD Group. The jump is more pronounced among teens, who boosted video game spending by 41% last year while cutting compact disc spending by 45%, according to NPD.
Such a boom has translated into sales and earnings for developers like Ubisoft, Konami and Vivendi Universal. Ubisoft, which in addition to “CSI” started selling its “Lost”-based computer game last month, saw revenue for the quarter ended Dec. 31 jump 44% from a year earlier to 450 million euros ($700 million). More telling, games revenue at Japan-based Konami, which develops “American Idol” titles, made up 6% of the parent company’s sales while accounting for 8% of its operating income.
Vivendi Universal is trying to further build earnings from its games unit by expanding into portable games, where U.S. software sales jumped 18% last year and are likely to surge further as developers create games for Apple’s iPhone.
Vivendi, which began licensing its “Law & Order” franchise for game developers in 2002, said last week that it’s teaming with mobile-game developer LimeLife to create its first title for hand-held devices. Downloads of the game will cost $6.99 while monthly subscriptions will cost $2.99, Vivendi and LimeLife said in a statement.

10 Comments

  1. Hi! My name is Gilbert and I got this idea for a tv game show,my question is,do you buy any games? .I am lookig for a producer that would like to buy my game.If so please Email or call anytime @(626)918-6622 or (626)625-5919 cell.Thank you

  2. i have a poker tv game show, the poker game is my own game that i have come up with, i actually have about 8-10 poker games that i have created these games dont exist anywhere all original games but thats something else, my game show is original, fast paced, the excitement of the final table with the thrill of the ALL IN moment every hand every game. I just dont know where to start or who to talk to about it. IM guessin someone who produces TV game shows but i dont know how to contact that kind of person. SOS in need of help. Thank You for your time and help if u can help me or just steer me in the right direction. SALVADOR CORREA 503 408-8988 OR saljcsr5@yahoo.com

  3. Hi my name is angel bobo and i have a really great idea for a television show for the producers of nickelodeon.If you would like to get some details about my new television program idea you can email me at angelbo@rocketmail.com. Thank you for your time and I will be hoping to hear from you soon.

  4. Hi:
    I have two TV game show pilots. They are both copyighted. One has to do with baseball and the other art.
    Can you direct me to the right people?
    Thank you.
    John

  5. Hi! My name is Allal and I got this idea for a tv game show,my question is,do you buy any games? .I am lookig for a producer that would like to buy my game.If so please Email @ MLSMORTGAGES@AOL.COM, or
    call anytime @(206)870-4394 or (206)251-9928 cell.Thank you.
    My TV game show Idea is fun, informative and have great potential for company log placement withing the show. This will generate more revenue for any Network.

  6. Hello, I have two great TV show ideas that I would love to put into play and on the big screen. I would extrememly be glad to share my ideas for my TV Reality Show and my TV Talk/Music Show. Please contact me to discuss how we can work together to put these brilliant ideas on air (323) 244-8166 or im_next1@yahoo.com or imhisroyalqueen@yahoo.com. Look forward to hearing from you.

  7. Hi
    I am trying to find a Producer for a Game show idea i have that focuses on our failing economy and our new President and Government. Should you wish to discuss my idea, please contact me at (858)997-9019.
    Thank You!

  8. I’ve been pitching a unique concept of kids tv programming to few broadcasters and positive response get me seriously thinking on getting it into production.Looking for iquity investors or sponsors. You can contact me at: asitennis@hotmail.com

  9. SIR / MADAM
    MY NAME IS SOLOMON MICHAEL.I’M WRITING THIS LETTER TO SEEK INFORMATION ON WHERE AND WHO I SHOULD CONTACT TO PRODUCE OR TO MARKET ABOUT A NEW GAME SHOW THAT I CREATED.THE GAME HAS GREAT POTENTIAL FOR SUCCESS. IT INVOLVES CONTESTANTS AND CAN BE PLAYED IN FRONT OF LIVE AND TELEVISED AUDIENCES. IT CAN BE MODIFEID TO BE PLAYED THROUGH A VARIETY OF MEDIA.
    I WILL NOT INCLUDE THE DETAILS OF THE GAME HERE. IT IS AN ORIGINAL CREATION, AND DOES NOT IMITATE OR DUPLICATE ANY EXISTING GAME SHOW.
    IT IS REGISTERED AT THE AMERICAN LIBRARY OF CONGRESS. I WOULD VERY MUCH APPRECIATE ANY ADVICE OR DIRECTION YOU COULD GIVE ME ON WHERE AND WHO I SHOULD CONTACT REGARDING THIS PRODUCTION.
    THANK YOU
    SOLOMON MICHAEL
    TEL. 703 379 6682
    solomonm12@yahoo.com

  10. Is anyone managing this blog/page/comments? I posted about a TV game show around 2008 and yet to receive a reply or a comment. You are free to call me @ my new number 206-788-7190

Your Comment

Email (will not be published)