Playmania: Dubious behavia [sic]

When I’m really trying to chill and I decide its time to stop watching TV, and if the cat seems to be in a good mood, I’ll leave GSN’s PlayMania on. Well, the presenters are always fairly cute.

Each time I watch it I wonder how they make their money. Some of the presenters seem to be permanently waiting for someone to fill the first slot in their player’s lounge.

I sensed a scam. If 10 people bid on a puzzle that gives away $100, plus air time, etc, that’s a big loss, right?

Tonight they were asking for titles of movie sequels, and nobody seemed to be calling in. I could think of a few (I even had the top one as it turned out). So after about 10 minutes I texted in, as the instructions suggest.

I got my text message saying “We may call u back … you’ve been billed $0.99”. So I waited. When it was obvious people were not going to guess and they were trying to get people to call, I decided to put in a second text, so if I did get thru I might get to try my two favorites (Terminator 2 and Dead Mans Chest).

The girl on the show was just short of pulling hairs to get people to play, crank up the prizes. It seems that whoever was supposed to be bringing people through, tho, wasn’t getting the message.

As I sat and waited, they went a whole 5 minutes without any callers showing up.

I happened to be chatting to someone online. Remarkably, he and his wife had both texted in having ideas for answers too (I think she had Shrek 2 in mind having just watched it earlier with the kids). They’d been waiting 5 minutes longer than myself. And they’d texted in on an earlier puzzle and on a previous night.

Here’s the thing. None of the callers ever sound like they are on cell phones – atleast, that’s what makes me sceptical.

Since they don’t get to charge audience ticketing fees, then if they can offer $400 for an answer, they’ve got to need at least 400 people to text in at 99c each. And that’s just to cover the prize. Presumably, they need more like 1000-1250 people to give away that much. And since it shows nationally, it’s hard to believe they have a hard time getting so few people to text, so I’d go ahead and gamble that it seems like your odds just of getting your text followed up is around 1:2000. (Edit: My original numbers were off because of a typo in the first result, that’ll teach me to change numbers without double checking :)


And yes, I realize they are a cheap network – it’s 2am and they’re showing black and white gameshow repeats :)

40 people at 99c == 39.6$


Known Issue :)

Yes, they make money because they have to get X amount of text messages, then pick one randomly from that pool to fill a slot. Actually I think it’s that they don’t lose money with that setup. The profit probably comes from commercials. It’s very low production rate and very low profit rate, but it’s entertaining.

By the way, save yourself the cost of the text message by making an free account and entering the queue via their webpage at

Since they take submissions that way, it’s obvious they don’t rely exclusively on cell phone text charges to make profit. I’ve sumitted about 10 times via the website and never gotten on. I’m sure you still enter that X callers queue that 1 random person gets chosen from, though. The real money has to come from the commercials (but it can’t be much profit).

Oh, and some of the callers are so oblivious. “Top 5 Sports Movies” Woman: “Um, the Whole Nine Yards?” BTW, ‘Rocky’ wasn’t on the list…seriously, WTF? Then I remembered that the answers are provided by polling people at the mall in L.A.

I don’t let my tv show me that channel.

You paid a dollar to text a message? Next time you think about doing that, just set aside a dollar for me. :)

Like has been said, they have to make their quota on the text messages before they can announce a winner.

If the prize is $100, they need to get $200 in text fees so they can cover the prize money and the rest go to the overhead of the show.

While not a scam, per se, it is dubious programming that the is allowed to continue because no lawyer has sued them yet.

A bit late, but just saw this video which reminded me of this post.

Actually, what happens is when you text, it gets entered into a database on a server. A program then randomly selects a number from the server, they call that number, and put you on hold. If your wondering why your name doesnt show up on in the “lounge”, it’s because most people get discouraged if they see an easy puzzle and a full “Player’s Lounge”. A live TV show of Playmania’s caliber, doesnt really have the necessary time or capability of registering how many text messages they recieve per amount of time to justify letting anyone have an answer.

– Any show gets money from it’s sponsers. No show can EXCEED a certain amount of money per show. The money amount is predetermined and generally kept under the cap no matter how many times they raise it to encite you.

– I’ve gotten through twice in one show. It’s just luck.

– Have you not heard some of these people? It’s obvious they’re on a cellphone. Especially when they drop out…not to mention funny.

Actually, on PlayMania they have people waiting and they don’t put them in the Players Lounge yet. They keep the players lounge seemingly empty to get more people to text in. I always enter online since it’s free and I’ve gotten in once and won $100. I was using a cell phone but I entered online. I only ever got through that one time but I still try all the time. They make their money with all the texts they recieve. Think about it, 10 people with 10 texts a night is $100. 25,000 people with 10 texts a night is $250,000! That’s how they make their money!

The show doesnt make any money off of the text messages. Thats just the fee to make a text. Why would they let you enter online for free if all of the money came from texts?

Anyways, TV shows are funded by their advertisers, who pay to have commercials during the air time. The show makes plenty of money off of that.

Zack is an idiot. Obviously they make the money off those text messages.

Brian, Zack is not an idiot. They might make a couple of bucks on the text messages, but it’s cray to think they can make the show profitable on 99 cent fees. They make their money from advertisers, just like every other television show.

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