The Price Is Right is a television game show franchise originally produced by Mark Goodson and Bill Todman, and created by Bob Stewart, and is currently produced and owned by FremantleMedia (Endemol in Netherlands). The franchise centers on television game shows, but also includes merchandise such as video games, printed media and board games. The franchise began in 1956 as a television game show hosted by Bill Cullen and was revamped in 1972. This version was originally hosted by Bob Barker. Since 2007, Drew Carey has hosted the program.
In the show, contestants compete to win cash and prizes by guessing the pricing of merchandise. The program has been critically successful and remains a stalwart in the television ratings. It also managed to break away from the quiz show format that has been used in other game shows. Since the current version premiered, it has also been adapted in several international formats around the world, most notably in the United Kingdom, Australia and Mexico.
In 2013, TV Guide ranked it No. 5 in its list of the 60 greatest game shows ever.
The original version of The Price Is Right was first broadcast on NBC, and later ABC, from 1956 to 1965. Hosted by Bill Cullen, it involved four contestants bidding on a wide array of merchandise prizes, whose values ranged anywhere from a few dollars, (in many cases, "bonus" prizes were attached after the fact, to the winner) to thousands, doing so in the manner of auctions except that Cullen did not act out the role of auctioneer. Instead, contestants tried to bid closest to the product's actual retail price without going over that price. Depending on the prize, contestants were allowed, in proper turn, to make multiple bids; or only allowed one bid. In the case of the former, each contestant would bid on the displayed item, until a buzzer sounded. They could make a final bid, or "freeze." The contestant whose bid was closest to the correct value of the prize – and had not gone over that value – won it. There was also a special game set aside for the home viewer, which offered several prizes in a package, which usually included a luxury vacation trip, and/or a new car as part of the package. Viewers would submit their bids via post cards; the winner was announced on the air. At the end of each episode, the contestant who had won the most (by dollar value) was declared the winner and became the returning champion, entitled to play again in the next episode.
This version began as part of NBC's daytime schedule. An alleged series of technical problems made the pilot episode look bad enough for NBC to decline buying the show, but after an appeal from the producers, citing the fact that at that time all TV shows were given up to an initial 13 weeks to succeed or fail, it aired anyway. It became successful enough to warrant a second version of the series, beginning on prime time in the fall of 1957. Shown weekly, that version had the distinction of being the first TV game show to be broadcast in color. After being a Top-10 prime time show for some time its ratings gradually but noticeably declined, and by 1963 NBC canceled it, only to be picked up by ABC. ABC's primetime version ran for one full season (1963–64), and the daytime version ended in 1965.
In this version, four contestants place a single bid on an initial prize, in dollars only, as prices are rounded to the nearest dollar. The contestant who bids closest to the prize's actual retail price without going over wins it and then plays one of several pricing games for cash and/or an additional, higher-value prize or group of prizes. Two contestants are selected to compete against each other in the Showcase at the end of the episode for the chance to win a collection of prizes.
When the show debuted, episodes were 30 minutes in length; three pricing games were played, and the two contestants with the highest total winnings played for the Showcases. The current hour-long format debuted on November 3, 1975, with six pricing games per episode. A new feature, the Showcase Showdown, was introduced at this time and has remained in use ever since. The three contestants who make their way on stage in each half of the show spin a large wheel, which is labeled with money amounts from five cents to $1.00 in five-cent increments. The contestants spin the wheel once and then optionally a second time, and the contestant with the total score closest to $1.00 without going over is brought back to compete for the Showcases at the end of the show. Any contestant who scores exactly $1.00, either on the first spin or as a total from two spins, wins an extra $1,000 and gets a bonus spin. On the bonus spin, the contestant can win additional money if the wheel lands on one of two specially-colored green sections, (five cents or fifteen cents), or the $1.00 space.
Bob Barker hosted from September 4, 1972, to June 15, 2007. During his 35 years as host, Barker won numerous awards and honors including Daytime Emmys and a Lifetime Achievement Award. Directors of the show included Marc Breslow, Paul Alter, and Bart Eskander, with Eskander receiving a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Direction of a Game Show. Producer Roger Dobkowitz won a Daytime Emmy for his work on the show, which included the development of many of the show's games that are still being played today.
After a season-long search for a successor, Drew Carey took the helm of the show, with production resuming in August 2007, and his first episode airing on October 15. It is believed to be the longest-running game show on television (the Spanish-language variety show Sábado Gigante ended on September 19, 2015). It is also the longest running game show airing episodes five days-per-week in the world. The Price Is Right is the only game show franchise to be seen nationally in either first-run network or syndication airings in the U.S. in every decade from the 1950s onward. CBS has occasionally aired extra episodes of the show for short periods between the cancellation of one daytime program and the premiere of its successor. On occasion since 1986, special episodes have aired during prime time hours, most notably to fill in gaps between the Survivor series, and during the 2007–08 Writers Guild of America strike.
On September 22, 2008, Terry Kneiss made game show history by bidding the exact amount of his $23,743 showcase. Taping of the show immediately stopped, with Carey and show staffers concerned that cheating was taking place. It was later learned that—by constantly watching the show, noticing the frequency of certain products showing up on the show, and using statistical analysis—Kneiss and his wife Linda, who was in the studio audience, had legitimately determined the exact prices of the items in the showcase. Kneiss was awarded the prizes, and the show subsequently discontinued featuring certain products.
On April Fools' Day in 2014, Craig Ferguson and Carey switched hosting duties, with Carey hosting the The Late Late Show and Ferguson taking over the hosting duties on The Price Is Right. The episode also featured Shadoe Stevens as announcer. Barker appeared on the April Fools' Day episode in 2015, hosting the first item up for bids and the first pricing game, with Carey hosting the remainder of the episode.
Primetime episodes have been ordered by CBS on occasion since 1986. The first, The Price Is Right Special, was a six-week summer series which aired on CBS in 1986, hosted by Barker. In 2002, the show celebrated its 30th year with a Las Vegas special.
Later in 2002, the show began its current line of primetime episodes (known as #xxxSP in show codes). Six special episodes titled The Price Is Right Salutes aired in primetime, saluting the branches of the United States armed forces, and for the police and firefighters of America in the wake of the September 11 attacks became the first in the canon. The Price Is Right $1,000,000 Spectacular (#007SP-#033SP) was a series of primetime specials airing from 2003 until 2008 featuring chances at winning $1,000,000, as well as more expensive prizes than on the daytime counterpart.
Two daytime episodes aired in primetime. Episode #4035K (June 15, 2007, season finale and Bob Barker's final episode) was rebroadcast in primetime after airing that morning, leading to the Daytime Emmy Awards. Episode #4512K, the show's military special, originally intended for November 11, 2008, became the first daytime episode scheduled to originally air in primetime when it was moved to November 14.
The Celebrity Week format in daytime where a celebrity plays along with contestants was adopted for the next series of primetime episodes, which are part of the same series as the 2002 Salutes and 2003–08 $1,000,000 Spectaculars (#034SP-#036SP). These shows used former participants on the network's three primetime reality game shows (Survivor, The Amazing Race and Big Brother) who joined contestants as teams. The three-night special aired May 23–25, 2016.
Endless Games, which in the past has produced board games based on several other game shows, including The Newlywed Game and Million Dollar Password, distributes home versions of The Price Is Right, featuring the voice of Rich Fields, including a DVD edition and a Quick Picks travel-size edition. Ubisoft also released a video game version of the show for the PC, Nintendo DS, and Wii console on September 9, 2008. An updated version of the game (The Price Is Right: 2010 Edition) was released on September 22, 2009. Both versions feature the voice of Rich Fields, who was the show's announcer at the time of the release of the video games in question.
In September 2010, Ludia released the official Facebook version of The Price Is Right game. The game had two million monthly active users only two months after the launch.
In October 2011, Ludia (now owned by RTL Group) released The Price Is Right Decades, a video game featuring production elements from various decades of the show, for the Wii, mobile devices, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 to celebrate their 40 years on the CBS network.
The 1972 revised format appeared on Australian television the following year and debuted in the U.K. in 1984. The format has also been adapted elsewhere around the world. Hosts and models from the versions in other countries have made appearances on the U.S. version, usually sitting in the audience and acknowledged by the host during the broadcast. Barker and then-music-director Stan Blits appeared on the Carlo Boszhard-hosted Cash en Carlo at the start of the 200th episode.
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