The Game, created by Mara Brock Akil as a spin off from Girlfriends, languished with low ratings in its three years on the CW. It never was able to connect with a decent size audience and the CW really has an issue with marketing shows outside the hour long tween type dramas.
But as part of the re-branding of BET, the show was picked up after two years off the air and relaunched this month to one of the highest ratings in cable history. The Game had 7.6 million viewers, a bigger audience than the launch for Off the Map on ABC.
This is big news for many reasons. First, shows that get canceled are dead- especially two years later. Second, shows don’t really cross networks. (It has happened before and currently Southland is on TNT after being canceled by NBC.
But what this does show is that there is a place on cable for shows that can target specific audiences. It would be great if the three big networks could figure out how to have a successful show with people of color as the leads. Undercovers didn’t work this year.
But just because the networks can’t figure it out doesn’t mean there isn’t an audience, which is what the success of The Game shows. And the good thing about The Game is that it attracts men and women so it won’t go all “girls gone wild.”
It’s like a studio film vs an indie. The studio films have to be all things to all people. That’s what the networks think. Hit the widest audience. But when you drill down to the cable networks, you can get more specific and niche.
BET is using the success of The Game to create more scripted shows. Very smart move.
Is ‘The Game’ a game-changer (Variety)
BET hits the big time with ‘The Game’ (LA Times)