“Monopoly Millionaires Club” sliced to a half-hour


Scientific Games’ Monopoly Millionaires’ Club, a weekly syndicated hour which debuted last March, is returning for a second season starting on Sept. 12.

But there is a catch – the show is being cut in half – as in a half-hour weekly, down from a full hour.

The game show, hosted by Mike & Molly’s¬†Billy Gardell, uses state lotteries to pick contestants to play for one million dollars via a Monopoly lottery game.

In the Chicago area, Illinois does not participate in the Monopoly lottery, but tickets can be bought and played in Indiana’s Hoosier Lottery available in neighboring Lake and Porter Counties, which make up the easternmost part of the Chicago DMA.

Locally, Monopoly airs at 6 p.m. Sundays over WGN-TV, but airs in an alternative Saturday night time slot when its pre-empted for sporting events. WGN has not announced where the show would end up on the fall schedule, but would have to face NFL overruns if it were to stay on Sunday.

Hour-long weekly syndicated game shows in a traditional format are rare, and a weekly half-hour game show is even rarer. With the move, Monopoly would wind up facing Wheel Of Fortune or Jeopardy! in some markets, even though they are reruns.

The reason for the switch was to give stations (such as WGN) the flexibility to work around sports overruns, according to Barry Wallach, a former NBCU and Genesis Entertainment executive who is handling distribution. The program is cleared in 95 percent of the country who permit lotteries. Stations are still excited about the show, given there is nothing of this magnitude airing in first-run weekend syndication – by a country mile.

Nielsen Ratings for Monopoly Millionaires’ Club have been decent, averaging between a 1 and 2 household rating, according to TVNewsCheck. The program is taped in Las Vegas.