The TV quiz is probably dead in ten years so enjoy this golden age whilst you can

By | April 5, 2022

So I realised when playing Netflix’s Trivia Quest yesterday that although none of the questions relate to US minutiae, I hope you’re geared up for US history, US geography, US entertainment and crucially US sports. No real attempt to localise for local culture.

This is always going to be a problem for streaming services. You can’t just “do” a quiz with US contestants based on US mores and assume the rest of the world is going to give a damn, and you probably aren’t going to make a whole load of different versions for a whole load of different territories.

The appeal of quizzes during the day is a) they’re cheap to make, b) you can knock them out quickly, c) they fill time and d) some of them are even quite popular. But in ten years time where everything will be streamed this is just not going to hold value, there will be no need to “just fill time”, the question will be “how much new stuff do we need to be worthwhile” – and that is all likely to be in competition entertainment series (you won’t eliminate gaming), drama and documentary.

The current Channel 4 hoo-ha is fun but largely irrelevant – by 2035 (maybe earlier) I reckon broadcast television will be all but finished – some of the big US streamers will consolidate and each territory will have one, maybe two local offerings. We can fight this if you want but looking at the numbers it feels increasingly inevitable.

8 thoughts on “The TV quiz is probably dead in ten years so enjoy this golden age whilst you can

  1. David

    The bubble will burst, the novelty will wear off and in ten years time streaming programmes will be seen the same way pressing red to get interactive, watching things with a third dimension and programmes featuring Ratz are today.

    All those technical fads have come and gone and television has survived. I’m not saying we didn’t have fun along the way, Avago, the 2012 Olympic Ceremony in 3D and CBBC Continuity on BBC One are in the history books rather than the dustbin.

    By 2032, if not before, steaming programmes will go the same way. Channels may be delivered over the internet but individual programmes, not so much.

  2. Aaron

    “We can fight this if you want” – I’m not planning to fight it, as I’ve believed this for years.

    At one point, I (an American) considered myself lucky that my primary obsession ended up being game shows, as that’s (A) an entire genre (as opposed to one show, and what do you do when that show is canceled) and (B) a genre there will always be lots of as they’re cheap to make.

    Then Netflix (and similar streaming services) happened and I realized I was screwed. My primary obsession is an entire genre whose existence is predicated on broadcast TV channels needing cheap programming to fill time. Certainly that’s true in the US, where the vast majority of famous game shows were designed to be on five days a week on a broadcast network’s daytime schedule. I watch Jeopardy five days a week, but it just doesn’t fit the business model of a service like Netflix.

    I do think some unscripted competitive television will continue – if broadcast television were to disappear, a show like Survivor could easily end up on a streaming service – but probably the real future of quiz shows is apps like HQ Trivia, and that is very, very sad.

    Just my two cents (is there a UK equivalent to that expression)?

  3. Brig Bother Post author

    “Just my two penny’s worth” would be in line, although you don’t hear it that often these days.

    I’d be a massive hypocrite if I did. I’ll try and watch the first episode of a new show live if I can, otherwise subsequent episodes almost certainly on catch-up. Daily shows have basically no chance, I just don’t have time. It’s often a nice surprise if I’m off to catch the last thirty minutes of Pointless or The Chase and think “oh yeah, it’s good this.”

    These will always be Formatted Competition Entertainment in various forms, the ones that survive will be the ones where the themes are basically universal. “What animal was Bungle in Rainbow?” isn’t one of them.

    1. Aaron

      I should clarify – I watch Jeopardy five days a week on my DVR, not live as it is broadcast.

  4. David Howell

    I could actually see this meta-trend happening but in a way that quiz shows survive.

    “The big US streamers will consolidate and each territory will have one, maybe two, local offerings” – I think the value and inherent localisation aspects will make quizzes an absolute staple of those legacy local linear channels. Indeed that’s arguably what’s happening already in British TV.

    I’d worry more about sitcoms oddly enough, they’re more expensive and share at least some of the location specificity.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      When I say local, I mean local streamers.

      Sitcoms are already pretty much a dying genre, for whatever reason.

    2. Chris M. Dickson

      Picking up on your last sentence, it seems other people agree with you, and that many of the same arguments applied to quiz and game shows here can be applied to other genres as well – maybe even every genre other than sport, where live broadcasting is king, and – perhaps – news.

      1. Oliver

        The article misses the crux of the problem – historically, sitcoms were watched by younger people who don’t watch much linear broadcast television anymore. That’s why America has the same sitcom problem.


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