ABC counting on 'Millionaire' show to bring back the magic

MUMBAI: A struggling ABC is looking to a new format of the game show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire to shore up the ratings and help it compete with the other three US broadcast networks - NBC, CBS and Fox.

The new show Super Millionaire will air in February as a series of five episodes. Regis Philbin returns as the host and Michael Davies will serve as the executive producer. Celador, the UK company which created Who Wants to be a Millionaire, has overseen the development of the new format.

In India the local version of Who Wants to Be A Millionaire; Kaun Banega Crorepati changed the face of Indian television in 2000. It catapulted the Murdoch broadcaster Star Plus to the number one slot.

As with the original, ten finalists will compete against each other in the fastest finger round to answer one question. The winner then attempts to navigate 15 multiple-choice questions of increasing difficulty on a broad range of topics. The difference is that one can win a maximum of $10 million instead of just $1 million. 10 million is equal to one crore and so it could be the case that ABC is taking a leaf out of Star's book.

Explaining the rationale behind the show ABC Entertainment Television Group chairman Lloyd Braun said, "For months, we have been carefully monitoring the environment to determine if the time is right for a new, totally amped up version of Millionaire broadcast in its original, event-like form. We think this is the time."

"Celador's Millionaire is perhaps the greatest game show format ever devised. In the US, Regis Philbin made this the most successful prime time game show of all time, and now, Meredith Vieira hosts a fantastically successful, five day a week version of the game. With its new lifelines, music, graphics and zeros, Super Millionaire will take the format to a whole new level. We are currently gearing up for the tremendous demand we expect from regular Americans wanting their chance at the $10 million top prize," he added.

A company release adds that Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, hosted by Meredith Vieira, currently airs in syndication across the US. A Reuters report adds that in 2000 Millionaire averaged 28 million viewers a show. As was the case with Star Plus the show catapulted ABC from third to a decisive first-place finish in one season. The crucial difference though is that while Star Plus' other shows like Kyunkii Saas Bhi Kabhie Bahu Thi helped the broadcaster strengthen its number one slot ABC's shows have not fared well in the ratings.

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