The Price Is Right (U.S. game show)
|The Price Is Right|
|Created by||Bob Stewart
|Directed by||Marc Breslow (1972–86)
Paul Alter (1986–2001)
Bart Eskander (2000–09)
Rich DiPirro (2009–11)
Michael Dimich (2011–12)
Ryan Polito (2012–13)
Adam Sandler (2013–present)
|Narrated by||Johnny Olson (1972–85)
Rod Roddy (1986–2003)
Rich Fields (2004–10)
George Gray (2011–present)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||44|
|No. of episodes||8,000 (as of April 7, 2014)
Nighttime (1972–80): 300
Nighttime (1985–86): 170
|Location(s)||CBS Television City|
|Running time||38–48 minutes (1975–present)
22–26 minutes (1972–75; 1972–80 Nighttime; 1985–86 Nighttime)
|Production company(s)||Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions (1972–84)
Price Productions (1972–80 Nighttime; 1985–86 Nighttime; 1972–94)
Mark Goodson Productions (1984–2007)
All American Television (1996–98)
Pearson Television (1999–2002)
in association with CBS
|Distributor||FremantleMedia for CBS
Viacom Enterprises (1972–80 Nighttime)
The Television Program Source (1985–86 Nighttime)
Syndicated (1972–80 Nighttime; 1985–86 Nighttime)
|Picture format||NTSC (480i) (1972–2008)
HDTV (1080i) (2008–present)
|Audio format||Mono (1972–88)
CBS StereoSound (1988–97)
Digital Stereo (1997–2012)
5.1 Surround (2013–present)
|Original release||September 4, 1972
September 10, 1972 –September 13, 1980 (weekly)
September 9, 1985 –September 5, 1986 (daily)
|Preceded by||The Price Is Right (1956–65)|
|Related shows||The New Price Is Right (1994–95)|
The Price Is Right is an American television game show created by Bob Stewart, Mark Goodson and Bill Todman. The show revolves around contestants competing to identify accurate pricing of merchandise to win cash and prizes. Contestants are selected from the studio audience when the announcer proclaims the show's famous catchphrase, "Come on down!"
The program premiered on September 4, 1972 on CBS. Bob Barker was the series' longest-running host from its 1972 debut until his retirement in June 2007, when Drew Carey took over. Barker was accompanied by a series of announcers, beginning with Johnny Olson, followed by Rod Roddy and then Rich Fields. In April 2011, George Gray became the announcer. The show has used several models, most notably Anitra Ford, Janice Pennington, Dian Parkinson, Holly Hallstrom and Kathleen Bradley. While retaining some elements of the original version of the show, the 1972 version has added many new distinctive gameplay elements.
The Price Is Right has aired over 8,000 episodes since its debut and is one of the longest-running network series in United States television history. In a 2007 article, TV Guide named The Price Is Right the "greatest game show of all time." The show's 44th season premiered on September 21, 2015.
- 1 Gameplay
- 2 Personnel
- 3 Production
- 4 Broadcast history
- 5 Prizes
- 6 Reception
- 7 Merchandise
- 8 References
- 9 External links
The gameplay of the show consists of four distinct competition elements, in which nine preliminary contestants (or six, depending on the episode's running time) are eventually narrowed to two finalists who compete in the game's final element, the "Showcase."
At the beginning of the show, four contestants are called from the audience by the announcer to take a spot on the front row behind bidding podiums, which are embedded at the front edge of the stage. This area is known as "Contestants' Row." The announcer shouts "Come on down!" after calling each selected contestant's name, a phrase which has become a trademark of the show. The four contestants in Contestants' Row compete in a bidding round to determine which contestant will play the next pricing game (the round is known as "One Bid," which gets its name and format from one of two types of bidding rounds that existed on the 1950s version of the show). A prize is shown and each contestant gives a single bid for the item. In the first One-Bid game of each episode, bidding begins with the contestant on the viewer's left-to-right. In subsequent One-Bid rounds, the order of bidding still moves from the viewer's left-to-right, but it begins with the contestant most recently called down. Contestants are instructed to bid in whole dollars since the retail price of the item is rounded to the nearest dollar and another contestant's bid cannot be duplicated. The contestant whose bid is closest to the actual retail price of the prize without going over wins that prize and gets to play the subsequent pricing game. If all four contestants overbid, short buzzer tones sound, the lowest bid is announced and the bids are erased. The host then instructs the contestants to re-bid below the lowest previous bid. If a contestant bids the actual retail price, a bell rings and the contestant wins a cash bonus in addition to the prize. From the introduction of the bonus in 1977 until 1998, the "perfect bid" bonus was $100; it was permanently increased to the current $500 in 1998. On The Price Is Right $1,000,000 Spectacular, the bonus was $1,000. After each pricing game, another contestant is called to "come on down" to fill the spot of the contestant that won the previous round. The newest contestant bids first in each One Bid round. Contestants who fail to win a One Bid round—thus never making it onstage to play a pricing game—receive consolation prizes, which are revealed by the announcer near the end of the show, before the Showcase.
After winning the One Bid, the contestant joins the host onstage for the opportunity to win additional prizes or cash by playing a pricing game. After the pricing game ends, a new contestant is selected for Contestants' Row and the process is repeated. Six pricing games are played on each hour-long episode; three games per episode were played in the original half-hour format. On a typical hour-long episode, two games are played for a car, one game is played for a cash prize and the other three games offer expensive household merchandise or trips. Usually, at least one of the six games involves the pricing of grocery items, while another usually involves smaller prizes that can be used to win a larger prize package. Originally, five pricing games were in the rotation. Since then, more games have been created and added to the rotation and, starting with the 60-minute expansion in 1975, the rate at which games premiered increased. Some pricing games were eventually discontinued, while others have been a mainstay since the show's debut in 1972. As of 2015, 76 games are listed in rotation. On the 1994 syndicated version hosted by Doug Davidson, the rules of several games were modified and other aesthetic changes were made. Notably, the grocery products used in some games on the daytime version were replaced by small merchandise prizes, generally valued at less than $100. Beginning in 2008, episodes of The Price Is Right $1,000,000 Spectacular featured rule changes to some pricing games which rewarded a $1 million bonus to the contestant if specific goals were achieved while playing the pricing game.
Since the show's expansion to 60 minutes in 1975, each episode features two playings of the Showcase Showdown, occurring after the third and sixth pricing games. Each playing features the three contestants who played the preceding pricing games spinning "The Big Wheel" to determine who advances to the Showcase, the show's finale. The contestants play in the order of the value of his or her winnings thus far (including the One Bid), with the contestant who has won the most spinning last.
The wheel contains 20 sections showing values from 5¢ to $1.00, in increments of five cents. Contestants are allowed a maximum of two spins. The first contestant spins the wheel and may choose to stop with his or her score or spin again, adding the value of the second spin to their first. The second and third contestants then spin the wheel and try to match or beat the leader's score; if they fail to do so, they must spin again. If their total score is either less than that of the leader or over $1.00, the contestant is eliminated from the game. The contestant whose score is nearest to $1.00 without going over advances to the Showcase at the end of the episode. Any spin that fails to make at least one complete revolution is invalid and must be repeated.
If the first two contestants go over $1.00, the last contestant automatically advances to the Showcase; however, he or she is allowed to spin once to see if he or she can hit $1.00. Any contestant whose score equals $1.00 (from either the first spin or a combination of the two spins) receives a $1,000 bonus and, since December 1978, is allowed a bonus spin. The contestant wins an additional $10,000 for landing on either 5¢ or 15¢ (which are adjacent to the $1.00 space and painted green), or an additional $25,000 for landing on $1.00. From December 1978 to September 22, 2008, the bonuses were $5,000 and $10,000 for landing on a green section and the $1.00, respectively. If the wheel stops on any other amount or fails to make at least one revolution, the contestant wins no more money. The wheel is positioned on 5¢ prior to the bonus spin so that it cannot land on a winning prize without making a complete revolution.
Two or more contestants who are tied with the leading score compete in a "spin-off." Each contestant is allowed one additional spin and the contestant with the higher score advances to the Showcase. Multiple spin-offs are played until the tie is broken. Those who hit $1.00 in their spin-off spin still get $1,000 and a bonus spin. If two or more contestants tie with a score of $1.00, their bonus spins also determine their spin-off score. Only the spin-off score, not any bonus money won, determines which contestant moves on to the Showcase; thus, a person who wins the $10,000 bonus for landing on 15¢ would still lose the spin-off if their opponent lands on 20¢ or more. A tie in a bonus spin spin-off means the ensuing second spin-off will be spun with no bonuses available. Each spin must make one complete revolution in order to qualify. If a player's bonus spin spin-off does not make a complete revolution, the contestant must spin again, and the spin will be scored as in a second round of a spin-off (no bonuses).
According to a study in The Economic Journal, the optimal strategy for winning the showcase showdown (ignoring the value of the cash bonuses) is for the first contestant to stand on 70¢ or more and for the second contestant to stand on 55¢ or more. However, if one or more contestants are tied, a contestant's strategy should be modified. In the event of a tie with the first contestant, the second contestant should stand on 70¢ or more. The third contestant should stand on 55¢ for a two-way tie and 70¢ for a three-way tie.
At the end of the episode, the two contestants with the highest winnings, or since 1975 on hour-long episodes, the two Showcase Showdown winners, advance to the Showcase. A "showcase" of prizes (currently two or three prizes) is presented and the top winner has the option of placing a bid on the total value of the showcase or passing the showcase to the runner-up, who is then required to bid. A second showcase is then presented and the contestant who had not bid on the first showcase makes his or her bid. Unlike the One Bid, the contestant bidding on the second showcase may bid the same amount as their opponent on the first showcase, since the two contestants are bidding on different prize packages. The contestant who has bid nearer to the price of their own showcase without going over wins the prizes in his or her showcase.
Any contestant who overbids is disqualified regardless of their opponent's result. A double overbid results in neither contestant winning a showcase. Since 1974, any contestant who comes within a specified amount from the actual retail price of their own showcase without going over wins both showcases. Until 1998, the amount was less than $100. In 1998, it became the current $250 or less.
Bob Barker began hosting The Price Is Right on September 4, 1972 and completed a 35-year tenure on June 15, 2007. Barker was hired as host while still hosting the stunt comedy show Truth or Consequences. His retirement coincided with his 50th year as a television host. His final show aired on June 15, 2007 and was repeated in primetime, leading into the network's coverage of the 34th Daytime Emmy Awards. In addition to hosting, Barker became Executive Producer of the show in March 1988 when Frank Wayne died and continued as such until his retirement, gaining significant creative control over the series between 2000 and his 2007 retirement. He also was responsible for creating several of the show's pricing games, as well as launching The Price Is Right $1,000,000 Spectacular primetime spin-off. Reruns of Barker's final season were aired throughout the summer from the Monday after his final show (June 18, 2007) until the Friday before Drew Carey's debut as host (October 12, 2007), when the season 35 finale was re-aired. During his time as host, Barker missed only one taping of four episodes; Dennis James, then hosting the syndicated nighttime version of the show, filled in for him on these shows in December 1974. After he became a noted animal rights advocate in 1981 shortly after the death of his wife Dorothy Jo, Barker signed off each broadcast, informing viewers with the public service message, "Help control the pet population: have your pets spayed or neutered." Carey continued the tradition upon becoming the new host.
On October 31, 2006, Barker announced that he would retire from the show at the end of season 35. In March 2007, CBS and FremantleMedia began a search for the next host of the show. Carey, who was hosting Power of 10 at the time, was chosen and, in a July 23, 2007 interview on Late Show with David Letterman, made the announcement. Carey's first show aired October 15, 2007. Carey has continued Barker's tradition at the end of each episode of encouraging viewers to have their pets spayed or neutered. Barker has made several guest appearances since Carey took over as host: on the April 16, 2009 episode to promote his autobiography, Priceless Memories; on the December 12, 2013, as part of "Pet Adoption Week" that coincided with his 90th birthday; and on the episode which aired on April Fools' Day in 2015, hosting the first One Bid and pricing game as part of April Fool's Day.
The 2013 April Fools' show featured Carey and announcer George Gray modeling the prizes while the show's models performed hosting and announcing duties for the day. On the April Fools' Day episode in 2014, Craig Ferguson, Carey's former castmate from The Drew Carey Show, and Shadoe Stevens hosted and announced, swapping places with Carey and Gray respectively, who performed the same roles on the previous night's episode of The Late Late Show.
Johnny Olson, the announcer for many Goodson-Todman shows of the era, was the program's original announcer until his death in October 1985. Olson was replaced by Rod Roddy in February 1986, who remained with the program until shortly before his death in October 2003. Los Angeles meteorologist Rich Fields took over as the announcer in April 2004 and stayed on until the end of season 38 in August 2010. Following a change of direction and a search for an announcer with more experience in improvisational comedy, veteran TV host George Gray was confirmed as the show's current announcer on the April 18, 2011 episode. After Olson's and Roddy's deaths in 1985 and 2003, respectively and Fields' departure in 2010, a number of announcers auditioned before a permanent replacement was hired. In addition to Roddy, Gene Wood, Rich Jeffries, and Bob Hilton auditioned to replace Olson. Former Family Feud announcer Burton Richardson, Paul Boland and former Supermarket Sweep announcer Randy West substituted for Roddy during his illnesses. In addition to West and Richardson, Daniel Rosen, Art Sanders, Roger Rose, Don Bishop and current Wheel of Fortune announcer Jim Thornton also auditioned for the role eventually filled by Fields. Richardson substituted for Fields while he recovered from laryngitis in December 2006. In addition to Gray, TV host JD Roberto, comedians Jeff B. Davis, Brad Sherwood and David H. Lawrence XVII and actor/comedian Steve White also auditioned for the role.
To help display its many prizes, the show has featured several models who were known, during Barker's time on the show, as "Barker's Beauties." Some longer-tenured Barker's Beauties included Kathleen Bradley (1990–2000), Holly Hallstrom (1977–95), Dian Parkinson (1975–93) and Janice Pennington (1972–2000). Pennington and Bradley were both dismissed from the program in 2000, allegedly because they had given testimony on Hallstrom's behalf in the wrongful termination litigation she pursued against Barker and the show. Following the departures of Nikki Ziering, Heather Kozar and Claudia Jordan in the 2000s, producers decided to use a rotating cast of models (up to ten) until the middle of season 37, after which the show reverted to five regular models. Since March 2008, the models include Rachel Reynolds, Amber Lancaster and Gwendolyn Osbourne; Manuela Arbeláez joined the cast in April 2009, replacing Brandi Sherwood and James O'Halloran joined the cast in December 2014. Carey does not use a collective name for the models, but refers to them by name, hoping that the models will be able to use the show as a "springboard" to further their careers. In a change from previous policy, the models appearing on a given episode are named individually in the show's credits and are formally referred as "The Price Is Right models" when collectively grouped at events. Since season 37, the show often uses a guest model for certain prizes, often crossing over from another CBS property or come courtesy of the company providing the prize. Some such models have been male, especially for musical instruments, tools, trucks and motorcycles, and used in guest appearances during the Showcase. Owing to the traditionally female demographic of daytime television shows, along with the pregnancies of Reynolds and Osbourne, CBS announced that the game show would add a male model for a week during season 41, fitting with other countries with the franchise that have used an occasional male model. The show held an internet search for the man in an online competition that featured Mike Richards, the show's executive producer, Reynolds, Lancaster, Osbourne and Arbeláez serving as judges and mentors during the web series, narrated by Gray. Viewers selected the winner in October 2012. On October 5, 2012, CBS announced that the winner of the male model online competition was Rob Wilson of Boston, Massachusetts. Wilson appeared as a model on episodes through April 15, 2014. This contest was scheduled to be repeated in 2014, with auditions taking place during the FIFA World Cup break between May and July 2014. On December 8, 2014 CBS announced that the winner of the second male model online competition was James O'Halloran.
The game show production team of Mark Goodson and Bill Todman was responsible for producing the original as well as the revival versions of the game show. Goodson-Todman staffer Bob Stewart is credited with creating the original version of The Price Is Right. Roger Dobkowitz was the producer from 1984 to 2008, having worked with the program as a production staffer since the show's debut after graduating from San Francisco State University. Occasionally, Dobkowitz appeared on-camera when answering a question posed by the host, usually relating to the show's history or records. When he left the show at the end of season 36, Variety reported that it was unclear whether he was retiring or was fired, although Carey indicated in a later interview with Esquire that Dobkowitz was fired. As of 2011, the show uses multiple producers, all long-time staffers. Adam Sandler (not to be confused with the actor) is the producer of the show. Stan Blits, who joined the show in 1980 and Sue MacIntyre are the co-producers. Kathy Greco joined the show in 1975 and became producer in 2008; she announced her retirement October 8, 2010 on the show's website, effective at the end of the December 2010 tapings. Her last episode as producer, which aired January 27, 2011, featured a theme in tribute to her. The show's official website featured a series of videos including an interview with Greco as a tribute to her 35 years in the days leading up to her final episode. Frank Wayne, a Goodson-Todman staffer since the 1950s, was the original executive producer of the CBS version of the show. Barker assumed that role after Wayne's death in March 1988, as previously stated. Previous producers have included Jay Wolpert, Barbara Hunter and Phil Wayne Rossi (Wayne's son). Michael Dimich assumed the director's chair in June 2011. Marc Breslow, Paul Alter, Bart Eskander and Rich DiPirro each served long stints previously as director. Former associate directors Andrew Felsher and Fred Witten, as well as technical director Glenn Koch, have directed episodes strictly on a fill-in basis. Sandler began directing episodes in 2012, and became the official director in 2013. Aside from Barker, the show's production staff remained intact after Carey became host. FremantleMedia executive Syd Vinnedge was named the program's new executive producer, with Richards becoming co-executive producer after Dobkowitz's departure. Richards was a candidate to replace Barker as host in 2007, before Carey was ultimately chosen. Richards succeeded Vinnedge as executive producer when the 2009–10 season started, with Tracy Verna Soiseth joining Richards as co-executive producer in 2010. Vinnedge remains credited as an executive consultant to the show.
Audience and contestant selection
Many audience members arrive early on the day of a taping, and often camp out the night before to attend. Most have already received tickets for that day's show, although some hope to get same-day tickets. Audience members are then given the iconic name tags with a temporary identification number, which is also written on the person's ticket. A Social Security Number (or some national I.D. number for non-U.S. audience members) is also required to be submitted. Audience members are eventually brought through in groups of twelve for brief interviews with the production staff. Contrary to popular belief, contestant names are not chosen at random; rather, the interviews determine possible selections for the nine contestants per taping from among the pool of approximately 325 audience members. Since 1988, the minimum age for audience members has been 18; prior to 1988, teenagers and children as young as 12 were present in the audience. With few exceptions, anyone at least 18 years old who attends a taping of the show has the potential to become a contestant. Those ineligible include current candidates for political office, employees of CBS Corporation or its affiliates, RTL Group or any firm involved in offering prizes for the show. Contestants who have appeared on a different game show within the previous year or either two other game shows or any version of The Price Is Right itself within the past ten years are also ineligible. The show's staff alerts potential contestants – in person, on the show's website and on the tickets themselves – to dress in "street clothes" and not to wear costumes, such as those used to attract attention on Let's Make a Deal, another show that featured contestants selected from the audience. Those who have attended tapings in June 2008 noted that producers disallowed audience members from wearing fake eyeglasses designed to look similar to those worn by Carey, a restriction that has since been relaxed. Instead, contestants will often wear shirts with hand-decorated slogans. Members of the Armed Forces are often in uniform. Cell phones, tape recorders, backpacks, price lists and portable electronic devices are not allowed in the studio. Prospective contestants obtain tickets by contacting a third-party ticketing operator via the show's website, which is promoted on-air during the broadcast. Prior to 2011, ticketing was directly through CBS, originally via mail, with online online ticket access added in 2005. The mail practice ended after CBS began outsourcing ticketing to the third-party operator.
Occasionally, episodes are taped with special audience restrictions. For Memorial Day in 1991, an episode was taped with an audience composed entirely of those who had served in the Armed Forces. Similar primetime episodes were taped in 2002, honoring each branch of the United States military and a sixth episode honoring police officers and firefighters. An annual military episode has been taped starting Season 38 in 2008, originally on Veteran's Day, but moved in Season 41 (2013) to Independence Day, features an all-military audience, a Marine band playing the winner's service anthem, and contestants being called by rank. The 2008 episode contained a unique rule in which each One Bid featured one contestant from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, and One Bid winners also won a $1,000 gift card. As each contestant won his/her way onstage, he/she was replaced by a member of the same branch of service. Most civilian attendees were retired or disabled veterans or family members of military. The 2009 version eliminated the service member from the same branch replacing another after advancing from Contestants' Row rule. Additionally, members from the United States Coast Guard were invited to the show.
Beginning in 2009, some episodes have featured special themes with two contestants competing as teams, such as married or engaged couples for Valentine's Day and the "Ultimate Wedding Shower" episode. There have also been episodes with children who are minors (normally not allowed to compete) teamed with a parent (for Mother's Day and Father's Day) or grandparent (for Grandparents Day), as well as teen drivers and students for "Ultimate Spring Break" and "Back to School". In these cases the adult player (not the minor) must make all final decisions in the game play, such as when calling numbers or prices.
Two taped episodes had to be replaced as a contestant was related to a CBS employee and therefore ineligible to be on the show. The other contestants who appeared on that episode were awarded their prizes, but the episode was never aired and cannot be shown because of policies imposed by Barker over prizes on the show. There have been similar instances over the years of ineligible contestants appearing on stage, but these individuals were not edited out of the final broadcast since it was discovered in post-production. Usually, these episodes air with a disclaimer from the announcer added in post-production that one of the contestants was found ineligible (not specifying which one). Standards and Practices guidelines for game shows state that if an ineligible contestant wins a One-Bid and the other contestants on Contestants' Row at the time do not win a subsequent One-Bid, they are not considered to have made an appearance on the show and are immediately eligible again once the error has been discovered.
Except for the 30th Anniversary Special, which was taped at Harrah's Rio in Las Vegas, Nevada, The Price Is Right has been taped in Studio 33 in CBS Television City in Hollywood, California for its entire run. The studio, which is also used for other television productions, was renamed the Bob Barker Studio in the host's honor on the ceremonial 5,000th episode taped in March 1998. When Carey became host, there was talk of the show traveling in the future. The program is usually produced in about an hour, although if there is a guest involved, some tapings will last longer because of question and answer sessions by the audience and the guest, which the host usually moderates. Two episodes are usually taped each day, normally with three taping days per week (Monday through Wednesday, with one episode taped at 12:00pm and another at 4:00pm). The program is taped in advance of its airdate. For example, the show broadcast on February 28, 2008 was taped on January 16. As with many other shows that start production in the summer, the lead time varies during the season, as many as fifteen weeks to as little as one day. The audience is entertained by the announcer before taping begins and in case of guests, the guest will answer questions from the audience. After the taping session, there is a drawing for a door prize. On some episodes, all members of the audience receive a prize from a sponsor or celebrity guest; those prizes are usually mentioned in the Showcase (such as a complimentary slice of Papa John's Pizza, an NHL Winter Classic game puck, a couples' gift box from Hershey's or a book authored by a guest). Television and Internet viewers have also been directed to the show's official website to enter a drawing for a similar prize offered to all viewers or another prize related to the special offer (such as the Rock of Ages signed CD). Some episodes are taped "out-of-order" so that a specific episode will air after other episodes have aired. Notably, the Christmas Week episodes are usually taped in early December outside of the regular rotation. An episode may be taped out-of-order if a prize package reflects a trip to a special event that is taking place close to the date that episode will air (such as the Indianapolis 500, Academy of Country Music Awards, Final Four basketball tournament or in years when CBS broadcasts the Super Bowl, as was the case with Super Bowl XLIV in 2010, Super Bowl XLVII in 2013 and Super Bowl 50 in 2016). Other episodes may be aired out-of-order because of game-related incidents or situations beyond the network's control. Most episodes which have aired out of order have occurred when the show is taped far in advance, but in the time between the show taping and its airdate, a natural disaster took place at the trip venue. This happened in June 2005 with episodes that featured trips to New Orleans (which was later struck by Hurricane Katrina), with airdates moved to May and June 2006 and again in April 2010 with episodes that featured trips to Nashville, Tennessee (due to the May 2010 Tennessee floods), with airdates moved to September 2010.
The version of the series that began in 1972 was originally "A Mark Goodson–Bill Todman Production" in association with CBS. After Todman died in July 1979, the unit became known as simply Mark Goodson Productions and was announced as such on The Price Is Right from 1984 to June 2007. Today, the series is produced by FremantleMedia and copyrighted by The Price Is Right Productions, Inc., a joint venture of RTL Group and CBS. For the sake of tradition and through special permission from RTL's subsidiary FremantleMedia, the show continued to use the Mark Goodson Productions name, logo and announcement at the end of each episode until Barker's retirement, even after FremantleMedia purchased and absorbed the Goodson-Todman holdings. The show is now credited as a FremantleMedia production.
The Price Is Right premiered on September 4, 1972 at 10:30am ET (9:30 CT) on CBS, one of three game shows to debut that day, the other two being The Joker's Wild at 10:00am ET and Gambit at 11:00am ET. The show was first called The New Price Is Right to distinguish itself from the earlier/original version (1956–65) hosted by Bill Cullen, but it proved so popular in its own right that, in June 1973, the producers decided to drop the word "New." On March 26, 1973, CBS moved The Price Is Right to 3:00pm ET, pairing it with Match Game as part of what became the highest-rated pairing in daytime. The show remained in that time slot until August 11, 1975 when it permanently returned to the morning lineup at 10:30am ET. During one week (September 8–12, 1975), the show bumped Gambit off as it experimented with sixty-minute episodes. The result of the experiment led to the permanent expansion on November 3, 1975, moving its start time to 10:00am EST. In 1977, The Price Is Right moved back to 10:30am and remained there until April 23, 1979, when it assumed its 11:00am EST slot, where it has been since then. The format of the show has since remained virtually unchanged. New pricing games are generally added each year, while others are removed. In addition, prizes and pricing games have kept pace with inflation, with games originally designed for four-digit prices of prizes (most often cars) to be adjusted to allow for five-digit prices. While the set has been redesigned and upgraded, the show maintained a similar aesthetic element from its premiere in 1972. In season 36, CBS began offering full episodes of the show available for free viewing on the network's website. The show also began broadcasting in high definition with The Price Is Right $1,000,000 Spectacular primetime specials (the normal daytime version continued to air in 4:3 standard definition). The show made the full transition to HD broadcasts beginning with season 37. During the weeks of September 28, 2009, September 20 and October 4, 2010, two new episodes aired each weekday on CBS. In 2009, the additional episodes filled a gap between the cancellation of the daytime drama Guiding Light and the debut of Let's Make a Deal. In 2010, the extra episodes aired between the cancellation of As the World Turns and the debut of The Talk. The intervening week offered a second episode of Let's Make a Deal. The 2009 second episode aired in the time slot vacated by Guiding Light at 10:00am or 3:00pm ET/PT, depending on the affiliate's choice. In 2010, the second episode aired in the former As the World Turns time slot, at 2:00pm ET/PT.
Three syndicated versions of The Price Is Right have aired. The first two followed the same format as the half-hour daytime version but were intended to air on most stations in the early evening and as such were referred to on-air as "the nighttime Price Is Right."
A weekly syndicated version debuted the week after the daytime show and continued to air until September 1980. It was distributed by Viacom Enterprises, which had started as the syndication arm of CBS. When Mark Goodson devised the revival of Price for the 1972–73 season, it was intended for a nighttime broadcast under new rules for early-prime syndication and Goodson named Dennis James to host the show. (When CBS commissioned a new daily daytime version, Goodson also wanted James to host the show, but CBS wanted Barker, who was hosting Truth or Consequences at the time, to take it.) James eventually hosted a taping day (four half-hour episodes) of the daytime show in December 1974 when Barker fell ill and was unable to participate in the episode tapings. The two versions were largely similar at the beginning, as both were called The New Price Is Right. Some games had rule differences because of the larger budget and less commercial time on the nighttime show; for example, Double Prices was played for two prizes instead of one. This version retained the 1972 half-hour format for its entire run and never adopted the daytime show's Double Showcase rule or the Showcase Showdown added to the daytime format when it expanded to an hour in 1975. As of season two, the word "New" was dropped from the program's name. It was titled The Price Is Right (as the daytime show was by this time as well), often referred to on the air as "the nighttime Price Is Right." In most of the U.S., stations carried the syndicated Price as one of several weekly programs aired in one of the time slots in the hour before prime time which were created by the 1971 FCC Prime Time Access Rule. Though the nighttime version originally had higher ratings, by 1975, the ratings started to drop. After the fifth nighttime season in 1977, when the contract with NBC's owned and operated stations ended, James' contract was not renewed. CBS' owned and operated stations picked the show up and the decision was made to hire Barker, whose Truth or Consequences was taped two years ahead and had stopped production in 1975. The series taped its 300th and final episode on March 12, 1980 and was canceled after weekly syndicated game shows had fallen out of popularity in favor of daily offerings. With a run of eight seasons, it was one of the longest-running weekly syndicated game shows of the era and the longest-running regularly scheduled prime-time version of Price (the 1957–64 run was seven seasons).
Five years later, veteran host Tom Kennedy starred in a new daily syndicated version, which also used the traditional half-hour format and was syndicated by The Television Program Source. Like the previous syndicated series, this version had a slightly larger budget than its daytime counterpart. A perfect bid during the One-Bids won that contestant a $500 bonus (compared to $100 awarded on the daytime show during the same period); this bonus would permanently carry over to the daytime show in 1998. This version used the same models as the daytime show as well as announcer Johnny Olson, who as noted above died during the season. Unlike the daytime series, which employed a series of guest announcers until a permanent replacement was decided upon, the syndicated series brought Gene Wood in to fill in for Olson. When the daytime series decided on Rod Roddy as the permanent replacement for Olson, he took over the syndicated series from Wood as well.
Like its predecessor, this syndicated edition of Price was intended to be aired in the Prime Time Access slots on local stations. However, local stations found themselves bombarded with game shows and other series looking for spots on stations in an increasingly crowded market. This often resulted in shows like Price airing anywhere that they could be fit into a station's programming lineup, such as in the early morning period or in late-night slots. As a consequence, the show would not be able to find its intended audience and the ratings reports would reflect this.
Price was no exception, as many of the stations that bought the series placed it in these less desirable slots and the show could not find a foothold against the popular shows of the day, such as the runaway success of the syndicated Wheel of Fortune. Compared to some of the other shows on the market during this period, Price was a modest success, but it did not meet the very high expectations stations and producers had for the series. As a result, the show was not renewed beyond its first season. A total of 170 episodes were produced, and they aired in first-run from September 9, 1985 to May 30, 1986. During the six years it held the rights to Price, the Kennedy version is the only one of the three syndicated versions that was rerun by GSN.
The New Price Is Right
Eight years after the cancellation of Kennedy's Price Is Right, a new syndicated version premiered on September 12, 1994, hosted by Doug Davidson and distributed by Paramount Domestic Television. This series featured several significant changes: eliminating Contestants' Row, a different format for the Showcase Showdown, a Showcase featuring only one contestant, a completely different set and a much larger budget (even when compared to the two previous syndicated runs) that gave contestants the potential to win up to five times what they could win on the daytime show. However, this version found even more trouble finding an audience than the two previous syndicated series did and ended its run on January 27, 1995, after only 16 weeks of first-run shows. Several stylistic elements of this series, as well as many of its music cues, were later integrated into both the daytime version and nighttime specials.
CBS primetime specials and series
CBS attempted to break NBC's dominance of Thursday night prime time by The Cosby Show and Family Ties with a six-episode summer series, The Price Is Right Special, beginning in August 1986. On August 23, 1996, CBS aired an hour-long 25th Anniversary Special, using the half-hour gameplay format and featuring a number of retrospective clips. The 30th Anniversary Special was recorded at Harrah's Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and aired on January 31, 2002. This one-time road trip enticed 5,000 potential contestants to line up for 900 available tickets, causing an incident that left one person injured. A second six-episode primetime series saluting various branches of the United States armed forces, police officers and firefighters aired during the summer of 2002, as a tribute to the heroes of the terrorist attacks of 2001. During the series The Price Is Right Salutes, spinning $1.00 in a bonus spin during the Showcase Showdown was worth $100,000 instead of the usual $10,000.
The success of the primetime series, which aired mostly in the summer, along with the rise of "million dollar" game shows, led to CBS launching another primetime series in 2003, titled The Price Is Right $1,000,000 Spectacular. The 2007–08 Writers Guild of America strike and original success in the Nielsen ratings led CBS to commission ten more episodes of the primetime series. This series introduced set changes as the show was broadcast in high definition television for the first time and the set used for these episodes (except for the black floor) was moved to the daytime show in 2008. On the primetime series, larger and more expensive prizes were generally offered than on the daytime show. The Showcase frequently offered multiple or very-expensive cars. In the first sixteen $1,000,000 Spectaculars all hosted by Barker, the payoff for landing on the $1.00 during a bonus spin in the Showcase Showdown was increased to $1 million. Beginning with the seventh special, if nobody had received a bonus spin in either Showcase Showdown, the night's winner received one spin following the Showcase.
The million-dollar spin was eliminated for season 36, and instead contestants were given two ways to winning the prize. One pricing game per episode was selected as a "million-dollar game", with a secondary objective needing to be met in order for the contestant to win the money. Contestants were also awarded the million dollar bonus if they managed to win both Showcases, and the range the players had to come within was initially increased to $1,000, then reduced to $500. No primetime episodes have been produced since May 2008.
In 2006, The Price Is Right was featured on the series Gameshow Marathon, one of seven classic game shows hosted by talk show host and actress Ricki Lake. This version combined aspects of the Barker and Davidson versions with the celebrity contestants playing three pricing games, followed by a Showcase Showdown where the two contestants with the highest scores moved on to the Showcase. The winner of the Showcase also earned a spot in Finalists' Row. This version was announced by Fields and taped in Studio 46. It also marked the first Price Is Right episode directed by DiPirro, who replaced Eskander as the director on the daytime show in January 2009.
As of November 2009, the show had given away approximately $250 million in cash and prizes. Furs have not been offered as prizes since Barker's tenure as host (although wool and leather are now permitted). Several Barker-imposed prohibitions have been lifted since his departure, such as offering products made of leather or leather seats in vehicles and showing simulated meat props on barbecues and in ovens. The show has also offered couture clothing and accessories, featuring designers such as Coach Inc., Louis Vuitton and Limited Brands in an attempt to attract a younger demographic, as well as backyard play equipment such as JumpSport Trampolines and electronics such as smartphones, personal computer systems, video game systems and entertainment centers. Other prizes which have frequently appeared on the show since its beginnings include automobiles, furniture, trips and cash. The most expensive prize offered on this version of the show was a Ferrari 458 Italia Spider sports car, priced at $285,716, that appeared on the April 25, 2013 episode during "Big Money Week." The prize was offered during the 3 Strikes pricing game. Prior to this, the most expensive prize was a Tesla Roadster (valued at $112,845), featured on the April 22, 2010 episode in the pricing game Golden Road.
Since the show's debut, automobiles have been a signature prize on The Price Is Right. Most hour-long episodes have two pricing games that are each played for an automobile and in most episodes (although not all), at least one showcase will include an automobile. For special episodes, such as the 5,000th episode, there will often be more cars offered. From 1991 to 2008, almost all automobiles offered on the show were made by companies based in the United States, specifically Detroit's Big Three (although cars made by these companies' foreign subsidiaries or in a joint-venture with a foreign company were also offered). The move was made by Barker, in his capacity as executive producer, as a sign of patriotism during the first Iraq war in 1991 and as a show of support to the American car industry, which was particularly struggling at that time. When Chrysler merged with German automaker Daimler-Benz in 1998 to form Daimler Chrysler AG (now simply Daimler AG after Chrysler split from the automaker; Chrysler is now controlled by Italian automaker Fiat), the foreign ownership of Chrysler did not affect carrying any Chrysler-related models. Since Barker's retirement, cars made by foreign companies have been offered, most notably Honda, which has several factories throughout Ohio (the home state of Carey and then-announcer Fields). Through product placement, certain episodes in 2008 and 2009 featured Honda as the exclusive automobile manufacturer for vehicles offered on that episode. The major European (Volkswagen, BMW, Daimler, Fiat and Volvo) and Asian (Hyundai-Kia, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Mazda, Nissan and Honda) manufacturers have all provided cars on the show since the ban was lifted, with premium foreign cars almost exclusively used for games that generally offer higher-priced cars, such as Golden Road and 3 Strikes. Starting around 2010, vintage and classic cars have occasionally been offered as prizes for games which do not involve pricing them. Among them have been a 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air and a 1964 Bentley S3. These cars are usually offered in games where their prices are irrelevant to gameplay, such as Hole in One and Bonus Game.
The record for largest individual total in cash and prizes on a daytime episode is currently held by Sheree Heil from Tacoma, Washington. On December 30, 2013, during the "Best of 2013" show, Heil won a $157,300 Audi R8 and $10,000 in cash playing Gas Money. When added to the $3,045 of Prada shoes she won in the preceding One Bid, Heil's total winnings came to $170,345. The episode featured prizes chosen by producers as the best offered during the year.
The record for winnings by a showcase winner is held by VickyAnn Chrobak-Sadowski. On September 18, 2006, the premiere episode of Season 35 (Barker's final season), she won Push Over for a Dodge Caravan, spun a dollar in the Showcase Showdown for a bonus $1,000, and then proceeded to win both showcases by bidding within $250 of her showcase, which included a Dodge Viper. All told, Chrobak-Sadowski won $147,517 in cash and prizes.
The record for winnings on the primetime show is currently held by Adam Rose. On February 22, 2008, the first The Price Is Right $1,000,000 Spectacular episode since Carey became host, Rose won $20,000 playing Grand Game and won both showcases, which included a Cadillac XLR convertible in his own showcase and a Ford Escape Hybrid in his opponent's showcase, plus a $1 million bonus for being within $1,000 of the actual retail price of his own showcase, bringing his total to $1,153,908.
Terry Kniess holds the record for the closest bid on a showcase without going over, guessing the exact price of the showcase he was given. Kniess, an avid viewer of the show, recorded and watched every episode for four months prior to when he and his wife had tickets to attend in September 2008. Kniess learned that many prizes were repeatedly used (always at the same price) and began taking notes. Kniess was selected as a contestant on September 22, 2008, lost his pricing game (the only contestant to do so that episode), made it to the final showcase and guessed the exact amount of $23,743 for his showcase. Many show staffers, including Carey, were worried that the show was rigged and that Kniess was cheating. Kniess later explained that he had seen all three items of the showcase before and knew the general prices in the thousands. The 743 he used because it was his PIN, based on his wedding date and his wife's birth month.
Carey attributed his subdued reaction to the perfect bid by saying, "Everybody thought someone had cheated. We'd just fired Roger Dobkowitz, and all the fan groups were upset about it. ... I remember asking, 'Are we ever going to air this?' And nobody could see how we could. So I thought the show was never going to air. I thought somebody had cheated us, and I thought the whole show was over. I thought they were going to shut us down, and I thought I was going to be out of a job." Kneiss later defended his actions, claiming that he never cheated, and in the end, was awarded his prizes. (His feat can be comparable to the actions of Michael Larson, who appeared on the CBS 1980s game show Press Your Luck, and won over $110,000 by memorizing the board sequence.)
The Price Is Right has received six Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Game/Audience Participation Show, in 1988, 1996, 1997, 2004, 2007 and 2013.
The Price Is Right has generally been praised and remained a stalwart in television ratings over its long history. In a 2007 article, TV Guide named the program the "greatest game show of all time." The introduction of the program ushered in a new era of game shows—moving away from the knowledge-based quiz show format, creating "a noisy, carnival atmosphere that challenged cultural norms and assumptions represented in previous generations of quiz shows".
Since the mid-1990s, the program production company and in some cases the executive producer (both Barker and Richards, the executive producer since September 2009) have been sued by numerous women. Most of the lawsuits involved models and other staff members in cases of sexual harassment, wrongful termination and racial discrimination. Allegations of sexual harassment brought by Parkinson led to Barker calling a press conference to admit a past consensual sexual relationship with her, while denying any harassment and alleging instead that she was only angry with him for calling off the relationship. Barker was widowed in 1981 following the death of his wife, Dorothy Jo. It has also been alleged that Barker and senior staff created a hostile work environment, particularly to those who testified for the plaintiffs suing Barker. Responding to the controversy just before his retirement, Barker told William Keck of USA Today, "[The allegations have] been such a problem. I don't want to say anything about them. They [were] disgusting; I don't want to mention them." The Barker-era lawsuits, except for one, were settled out of court. After Barker dropped his slander suit against Hallstrom, she eventually countersued and received millions in settlement. There are two lawsuits in litigation: a pregnancy discrimination suit involving Sherwood and a sexual harassment suit involving Lanisha Cole, filed in September 2011.
The Plinko board is often used by RTL Group-licensed lottery promotions, CBS affiliates and Ubisoft to promote the show. For the promotions, two fishing lines (one on each side of the board, hanging from the side down towards the center slot) are used to rig the game so the dropped chip always lands in the $10,000 slot. After an advertisement for the video game was taped, the wires were mistakenly left in place for the 1:00pm taping of The Price Is Right on July 22, 2008. As a contestant was playing the game, three consecutive chips she dropped landed in the $10,000 slot. As the fourth chip was being dropped, a co-producer realized that the wires were still in place and stopped the chip as it bounced down the board, informing Carey of the situation. The wires were removed and the entire segment was re-shot for the show from the point where the contestant began dropping chips. CBS Standards and Practices allowed the contestant to keep the $30,000 won prior to the removal of the wires as well as the money won with the five chips after the mistake had been corrected. However, the segment that aired (when the show was broadcast on December 5, 2008) did not reference the mistake or the amount of money won prior to the removal of the wires.
The show aired a 40th Anniversary Special on September 4, 2012. The entire audience was made up of former contestants. Barker did not appear, stating that he believed that he had been excluded for criticizing some of the prizes given away after Carey became host, such as a trip to the Calgary Stampede rodeo. Although he did not appear in person, vintage clips of Barker hosting the show were shown during the episode. Barker appeared on the show twice afterwards, once in December 2013 for his 90th birthday, and again on April 1, 2015 as the guest host for the first pricing game.
The Price Is Right has expanded beyond television to home and casino-based games.
A four-disc DVD box set, titled The Best of "The Price Is Right," was released on March 25, 2008. The set features four episodes of the 1956–65 Bill Cullen series, 17 episodes of the Barker 1972–75 daytime series and the final five daytime episodes hosted by Barker. In accordance with Barker's animal-rights wishes, which remain in effect beyond his retirement, any episodes with fur coats as prizes cannot be aired or released into home media formats. This includes the first three daytime shows recorded in 1972, plus most of the 1970s syndicated run. (However, none of these restrictions applies on the Carey episodes. Wool coats, meat prizes, leather merchandise and trips to rodeos have been offered as prizes and the prop in the Hole-In-One pricing game was changed to a leather golf bag in 2009 after the game picked up adidas as a sponsor.)
Seven board games have been produced. One of them was a variation of a card game, using prizes and price tags from the 1956 version. The second was based more closely on the original version of the show. Three games were produced during the 1970s by Milton Bradley, with Contestants' Row, some pricing games and, in the case of the third version, a spinner for the Big Wheel. In the first two versions, decks of cards had various grocery items, small prizes and larger prizes. The third version simply had cards for each game that included ten sets of "right" answers, all using the same price choices. The instruction book specified what color cards were necessary for each round. The 1986 version, again by Milton Bradley, was similar in scope to the earlier version, with new prizes and more games, but lacking the Big Wheel, similar to the Davidson version. The instruction book refers to Contestants' Row as the "Qualifying Round" and the pricing games as "Solo Games." The book also instructs players to use items priced under $100 as One Bids. The 1998 version of the game, by Endless Games, was virtually identical to the 1986 release, with the same games, prizes and even the same prices. The only changes were that the number tiles were made of cardboard bits instead of plastic and the cars from the deck of prizes with four-digit prices were removed. The 2004 version, again by Endless Games, was a complete departure from previous home versions. Instead of different prize cards and games, the game consisted of everything needed to play 45 games and enough materials to create all the games not technically included if the "host" wished to and knew their rules. The Big Wheel spinner was also restored, this time with the numbers in the correct order. Additionally, the prices, instead of being random numbers that could change each time the game was played, were actual prices taken from episodes of the TV show. To fit everything in the box, grocery items and prizes were listed in the instruction book and games were played on dry erase boards. A spinner determined the game to be played next, although its use was not necessarily required if the "host" wished to build his own game lineup.
Computer and electronic games
In 1990, GameTek created a Price Is Right computer game for the DOS and Commodore 64 platforms and other systems to fit in their line of other game show games. A handheld Tiger game was made in 1998 with four pricing games. A DVD game with 12 pricing games, live casino show host Todd Newton and video of prizes taken directly from the show was produced by Endless Games in 2005. A 2008 DVD edition, also from Endless Games, featured many changes based on season 36 and included seven new games: Half Off, More or Less, Swap Meet, Secret X, That's Too Much, Coming or Going and Hole in One. It also featured both host Drew Carey and announcer Rich Fields. CBS.com featured an online Price Is Right-based game in the late-1990s, which was plugged in the closing credits of each episode. The game consisted of choosing which of the four bidders in Contestant's Row was closest to the price of a prize without going over. Additionally, Mobliss provides a suite of pricing games for cellular phones.
On March 26, 2008, Ludia (in connection with Ubisoft) launched The Price Is Right video game for PC. A version for the Wii and Nintendo DS platforms was released in September 2008, while a version for the iOS was released in November 2008. The show's announcer, Fields, was the host of the computer version. The virtual set in the game resembles the set used in seasons 31 to 34. During the taping of this promotion, the Plinko board was rigged so that all chips dropped landed in the highest value slot on the board. After production wrapped, the wires used to rig the board were mistakenly left in place, leading to an incident during a taping of the daytime show which had to be edited and re-shot. Ludia announced that all three platforms will receive a new version of the video game that was previewed at the Target Bullseye Lounge during the Electronic Entertainment Expo trade show on June 2–4, 2009. The Price Is Right 2010 Edition was released on September 22, 2009. In the fall of 2010, Ludia developed a multi-player version for Facebook. A third Ludia adaptation, The Price Is Right Decades, featuring set designs, pricing games and prizes taken from the 70's through 2000's; was initially released for the Wii in October 2011, with an Xbox 360 and iOS release following in November and December. The Price Is Right 2010 Edition and The Price Is Right Decades have also been released as downloads within the PlayStation Store for the PlayStation 3 in May 2010 and April 2012, respectively. Irwin Toys released an electronic tabletop version in 2008 featuring Contestant's Row, the Big Wheel, a physical Plinko board with chips, Showcases and seven pricing games. Jakks Pacific released a Plug It in and Play version of The Price Is Right in 2009, featuring Carey and Fields.
A series of video slot machines were manufactured for North American casinos by International Game Technology. Although gameplay varies by machine, each feature themes and motifs found on the show, including the Showcase Showdown, with themes used following Carey's start as host. Others feature pricing games as gameplay elements, including Plinko, Cliff Hangers, Punch a Bunch, Dice Game, and Money Game.
A scratchcard version of the game is being offered by several U.S. and Canadian lotteries, featuring adaptations of Plinko, Cliff Hangers, the Showcase Showdown and the Showcase. The top prize varies with each version.
Live casino game
After the 2002 one-off Las Vegas episode, Harrah's and RTL Group have agreed to do live licensed shows (dubbed The Price Is Right Live!) at their venues, with several performers, including Roger Lodge and Newton hosting and West, Rosen or Dave Walls announcing.
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After hearing her name called and then the iconic words, "Come on down…," she had the closest bid to win a JumpSport 14-foot Stage Bounce Trampoline worth about $950, according to Caly Johnson, spokesperson for CBS, the network that airs the show.
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The $25,000 Pyramid
|Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game/Audience Participation Show
The $25,000 Pyramid