GSN’s Key Letters: ITV

GSN will continue to roll out original reality and casino-based game shows, and will aggressively push ITV applications under the guidance of newly named senior vice president of programming Ian Valentine.

Sci Fi Channel’s former senior vice president of programming is charged with overseeing GSN’s production, development, acquisitions and program planning, plus managing its programming staff, casting and production departments.

He replaces former network programming chief Bob Boden, who left last December amidst changes in programming strategy.

The channel’s recent repositioning effort — the former Game Show Network has moved from a predominantly classic game show-based schedule to one that features more reality and competition fare — is headed the right way, Valentine said.

Since the March name change, primetime ratings have remained flat at a 0.5 through May, after suffering a 20% drop from 2002 to 2003.

“I think that [GSN president] Rich Cronin began to point a new direction for the channel with the name change and the new slate of programming that I find exciting and challenging,” Valentine said. “My job is to look at what’s working, and to find new stuff that might work to begin to broaden the appeal of the channel beyond just an audience that likes game shows to a much larger audience that enjoys competition, games and play-alongs.”

While classic game shows will continue to remain a daytime staple, Valentine said the network will employ more original and acquired reality and gaming shows in primetime and during late night.

After bowing a series of originals — including GSN’s World Series of Blackjack; Fake-a-Date, hosted by Joe Millionaire’s Evan Marriott; and competition show Kenny vs. Spenny in March — the network will unveil a spate of acquired fare next month.

Beginning on June 14, GSN will strip Star Search, Dog Eat Dog and Street Smarts weeknights at 7, 9 and 11 p.m., respectively.

A day later, GSN will roll out original Extreme Dodgeball at 10 p.m., while Average Joe joins the Wednesday night lineup at 10 p.m. the next night.

The network will also remain aggressive in the interactive arena, said Valentine.

Currently, the GSN Interactive online division programs 84 hours of ITV programming per week and boasts 1.5 million players.

This past year, the network launched interactive elements for its on-air game shows The Weakest Link, Match Game and Family Feud.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.