Thursday, July 28, 2005

Call Now!

If you can work out the word on the screen, call now! It's easy, come on, just call. I'm waiting here for you with lots of cash, you just have to call in and say the word. Call now!

I don't think it's limited to Hungary but I haven't experienced it elsewhere. These phone-in games on TV drive me nuts. Hosted by desperate young starlets pleading (and they really do beg) for viewers to pick up the phone and call the (premium) number and solve the puzzle.

Read moreThe puzzles tend to fall into two extremes. The dead easy ones as shown in the pic and the "you'll never get it" variety that would be easy to solve if you just knew what rules were applied.

As far as I can tell, the easy puzzles bring in the money by people calling in then being held in a queue while the call is "processed". The caller will wait because they know they have the right answer, but so do the other 10 people in the queue. In this case it's more of a phone lottery than anything else.

The tough puzzles are sneaky. They go along the lines of "How many lines / circles / triangles / squares do you see in the picture?" or "Add up all the numbers you see and tell the total." Sounds simple enough but should the dates of "July 25-27" be treated as "25+27 = 52" or "25-27=-2"? Are they counting the phone number? Are those numbers together or is there a small space between them? And so on. People call in with wildly different answers thinking they have the right one but hardly anyone does. Except for the producer's friend who calls in at the last minute.

The puzzles sometimes are amusing to try to figure out but they're getting more and more intrusive. Before they were on the cheap channels and out of hours but I've noticed them on mainstream VIVA during my regular viewing times. Soon there will be no escape.

There's something unnerving about these shows. The viewers calling in are probably related to the breed that have phoned into radio quizes and requests for many years. The presenters on the other hand just seem to be youngsters trying to break into showbiz and being exploited during their efforts. I guess there's nothing new there, but when you see them have to speak non-stop, imploring in vain for viewers to call in, it makes my skin creep. Though if you want to give it a go yourself, they're advertising here.


At 10:02 AM, Anonymous Doctor Pockless said...

I actually had an interview in London not so long ago with a company doing just this. I wasn't too keen when I realised just how exploitative the whole concept was - but it's not so very different to the premise of another company you and I both worked for not so very long ago.

Remember Texticles?

At 10:06 AM, Blogger Timbo said...

Ahh.... Texticles. What a great name. Shame no one played. As I remember, it was the company who got fleeced on that one and had to cut the game short.

Likewise that terrible pay-per-play snowboard game where there was only one person playing (and therefore winning).


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