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'Millionaire': Game On

Meredith Vieira may still be settling into her role on Today, but her syndicated game show Who Wants To Be a Millionaire is leading a strong run for the genre.

According to the national household ratings for the week ended Oct. 22, Millionaire averaged a 3.5, its best number in 37 weeks and up 6% from the previous week. The year-to-year numbers also reflect the strength of Millionaire; it's up 21% over the corresponding week last year and had the largest year-to-year growth of any show in first-run syndication for the third consecutive week.

The show is benefiting from a combination of Vieira's increased exposure, the wave of successful game shows currently on TV, and upgrades in multiple markets. Millionaire isn't the only syndicated game show to see a boost; Wheel of Fortune averaged an 8.4, up 8% on the year, while Jeopardy! averaged a 6.6 on the week, up 6%. Only Family Feud was off year-over-year in the genre; it averaged a 1.8, down 5% on the year.

The segment's strong performance serves as more fodder for syndicators who are already looking to jump back into game shows on the heels of network successes like Deal or No Deal. Among those in the pipeline are a syndicated version of Deal, as well as the remake of Joker's Wild and new entry Combination Lock, both from Sony Pictures Television and King World.

“Everyone is chasing the game shows right now,” says one syndication executive. “That's where a lot of the focus is right now, any form of games.”