Industry insiders: please tell me about pitching/selling/optioning a game show

My friend and I have what we feel is a very good idea for a game show, and we’ve written a proposal that we think is good. I have some experience in seeing what such proposals look like from having translated proposals from a Japanese TV show. But I could use a lot more information and would greatly appreciate answers to the following questions and any additional advice you may have:

  1. What would be the typical payment (i.e., how much money could we theoretically get up front and over time) and terms if an entity simply “bought” the format? (I suppose they could buy it on a global, national, local, etc. basis as well.)

  2. What would the typical payment and terms be for an option to the format?

I anticipate that there could be very wide variability in the above, but ballpark would be nice.

  1. Would it be best to get an agent to help us sell this, or is simply approaching entities directly the better way to go?

  2. What entities could possibly be “low-lying fruit”?

Thanks, guys!

I would surely think one or more Dopers would have knowledge on this topic…

There isn’t a lot available online…

I think the problem you may be having is the odds of you succeeding at this are so incredibly low, people aren’t inclined to post.

I don’t know about this particular area, but I suspect that if you don’t have an agent you won’t get anywhere. It is kind of like the way I think it is with scripts. If they open your proposal, and see something similar to what they are working on anyway, and then reject it, you then sue for stealing your idea.
Also an agent is a filter. He can tell you if your idea makes any sense. And if it does, he has relationships with producers and can pitch it in the right way.
I have no idea what kind of agent handles this kind of material. But I bet if you send it to anyone but an agent it will be returned unopened.

Or, it may be that, despite the fact that we have a number of people on this board who work in the TV industry, the questions that Aeschines is asking require some highly specialized knowledge about a very specific segment of the industry to really answer.


I spent a decade in the entertainment industry, working at NBC among other places, and I have no idea how to answer the OP’s question.

I’d be interested in finding out the answer, though.

TVWritersVault: ”Creating & Pitching Game Shows for Today’s TV” By Scott Manville, Former Development Executive for Merv Griffin Entertainment.

He does not talk about agents but essentially everyone in the entertainment industry who is writing, acting, directing, or producing has an agent or agency, whose job it is to both make contacts with perinent executives and hiring managers or casting directors, negotiate rights and licensing, and provide some guidance to clients on what pitches are likely to be accepted by whom. While you hear about the occasional unicorn whose spec screenplay was picked up or starlet hired off the street, trying to break into entertainment without an agent is like facing a murder charge acting as your own attorney.

Look for agents who represent reality/alternative programming, and realize that you are going to need a lot more than a concept; probably a demo reel that shows how your show will work, and some hook that distinguishes the show from all of the other game and reality competiton shows.


Thanks, my friends. I appreciate all the help I can get!

I don’t know anything about game shows but from the reality show side of things a lot of the industry is who you know. Once i build a little more cred in the industry in terms of being able to carry a show there are two people I’d call to pitch my idea and I’d just call them up and schedule a meeting and pitch in person.

I would think if you don’t have the phone numbers of the decision makers at the networks or production companies who have. History of producing successful shows you need an agent who does have those contacts and you are essentially paying for them to get the meeting and do the in person pitch for you. I know a lot of shows are pitched from an idea sheet but I’d guess those have a lower success rate then the previously successful person with an ide who can get a meeting.