"Millionaire" finds windfall in Chicago again

“Is that your final answer?” is becoming a popular phrase in Chicago again.

While Who Wants To Be A Millionaire has not caught fire in the ratings like it did in August 1999 when it first premiered, it has rekindled its love affair in the Windy City. According to Nielsen, Millionaire’s return to ABC’s prime-time lineup has paid dividends for ABC O&O WLS-TV in its 7 p.m. time slot.

Scheduled to run for eleven nights only, the run so far has been a hit in Chicago, with its household ratings the highest among the ten largest markets. For the first seven nights, Millionaire has averaged a 6.4 household rating and 13 share. The program has also been a huge draw in Philadelphia and Atlanta, two markets whose ABC affiliates (like WLS-TV in Chicago) dominate the local ratings in their home markets.

Wednesday’s airing of Millionaire in Chicago drew a 7.6/13, the highest among the ten largest markets.

However, the picture nationally is a different story. The results have been disappointing, with the program drawing 7 million viewers overall and drawing only mid-1s in the ad-friendly adult 18-49 demo, meaning the program is skewing older.

The program became a regular series on ABC in January 2000, airing as much as four times a week, and drawing 20 million viewers an airing. Celebrity editions later came along, and with the public tiring of the show, ratings inevitably declined and wound up exiting ABC’s schedule in June 2002.

Millionaire moved into first-run syndication in September 2002 as a strip with a new host (Meredith Vierra) and was a surprise hit for Buena Vista Television, coming years after failing with first-run game show strips Win, Lose, or Draw (which stumbled around between 1987 and 1990) and The Challengers.

After one uneventful year at CBS-owned WBBM-TV, the program moved to WGN-TV in 2003, where it has been since. Last year, the program was upgraded to 5 p.m. to lead into a new half hour evening newscast, where it performs decently in the ratings.

Millionaire currently averages a 2.4 rating, ahead of several game shows in syndication, including Deal or No Deal, Family Feud, and the now-canceled Trivial Pursuit. Clearances are above-average for a syndicated show with several ABC O&Os in its lineup (WABC-TV in New York, WPVI-TV in Philadelphia, KGO-TV in San Francisco, and KTRK-TV in Houston, among others.)

Recently, the Indian version of Millionaire was centered around a plot for Slumdog Millionaire, which took home an Oscar Award for Best Movie.

Millionaire’s prime-time run wraps up this Sunday.

T Dog Media Blog Archive: A change is afoot for Millionaire