Case Study: Game of Games

Andrew Zein, the senior VP of creative, format development and sales at Warner Bros. International Television Production, talks to TV Formats about the prime-time entertainment show Game of Games.

Multi-award-winning TV host, producer, writer, actress and overall entertainment powerhouse Ellen DeGeneres is behind the concept of the Game of Games format. She and her team “realized that they had a raft of proven entertaining studio games from her daily show that could be developed into larger versions and combined into a stand-alone prime-time entertainment show,” explains Andrew Zein, the senior VP of creative, format development and sales at Warner Bros. International Television Production.

Ellen’s Game of Games premiered on NBC in the U.S. in late 2017, featuring supersized versions of some of the popular games from the daytime hit The Ellen DeGeneres Show. “There was immediate interest in the international market after the first episode rated so spectacularly,” says Zein. “Prime-time studio entertainment shows are the holy grail for almost all [broadcasters] around the world. So, to have one perform so well on NBC in such a competitive market and come with the ***Image***pedigree of Ellen DeGeneres and the creative nous of Mike Darnell and his team meant that it was on all broadcasters’ radars.”

There are local productions for Game of Games set in six territories so far, Zein confirms, though only Australia and Spain have been announced. “The adaptations will stay very close to the original, as the games are the stars, and virtually all of them will appear in each version around the world,” he adds. “The look and feel of the set and the involvement of the audience will remain the same.”

In the series, contestants are taken right from the audience, and they will have to maneuver obstacles, answer questions under time pressure and face gigantic plunges into the unknown—all in a quest to win a cash prize. The roster of games includes Blindfolded Musical Chairs, Dizzy Dash and Scary Go Round.

“The core of the format is pure entertainment for the audience coming from watching members of the public playing crazy games and having absolute fun,” Zein says. “All being marshaled by a host who can celebrate and enjoy with them, and also be charming and funny enough to laugh with (and also sometimes at) them.”

The company is focusing its sales efforts on securing adaptations around the world, though landing deals for the finished tape is also on the planner. “The international rollout of local versions has only just begun,” says Zein. “There are dozens more countries where we hope to produce local versions. With season two—which will be even bigger and better—in production America, there will be new games to help keep the program fresh and entertaining.”