Million Dollar Password: CBS Pulls Game Show, Will It Be Back? Will Regis Philbin?

Million Dollar PasswordAs Betty White said years ago, the Password game show is like a phoenix, it just keeps returning. The most recent version, Million Dollar Password, has been attracting lots of viewers but has now been pulled by CBS. Will it be back?

Million Dollar Password (MDP) is the latest in a long line of shows based on the word guessing game. The original first aired in 1961 and was hosted by White’s late husband and game show legend, Allen Ludden. MDP is the latest version Password and is hosted by modern-day broadcasting legend, Regis Philbin. To date, celebrities that have helped players win big money have included Rachael Ray, Neil Patrick Harris, Tony Hawk, Rosie O’Donnell, Julie Chen, William Shatner, Phil Keoghan, Steve Schirripa, Serena Williams, and Craig Ferguson. White has appeared on two episodes, making her the only person to ever appear on every version Password and the only person to be invited back to MDP.

The primetime game show premiered on June 1, 2008 to 10.69 million viewers, a solid debut. The numbers dipped for the following five episodes of MDP but that’s to be expected since they were airing in the summer months when viewership is typically lower. CBS ordered an additional season of six episodes for the 2008-09 season.

Should CBS replace Philbin with a younger host?

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Season two kicked off on December 18, 2008 with 8.27 million viewers. That’s not a great number but it’s still respectable, especially for the holiday season. Viewership for subsequent MDP episodes improved.

The most recent episode attracted 10.43 million people but CBS has now announced that they are pulling the game show from the schedule, effective immediately. There are two episodes left to air featuring Jamie Kennedy and Norm MacDonald, and Jeff Garlin and Chelsea Handler as the celebrity players.

If the game show is attracting lots of people, why pull it? Well, though MDP is watched by 10 million, the audience is predominantly an older demographic. In the network business, you ideally want younger viewers and the Philbin game show doesn’t attract many. CBS is the strongest network right now so they can afford to be picky.

The network hasn’t announced that the game show is cancelled and it seems likely that they’ll eventually get around to airing the extra episodes at some point, probably during the Summer months. However, a third season renewal seems unlikely.

In November, Philbin renewed the contract for his “day job,” co-hosting Live with Regis and Kelly. That contract is a very lucrative one for the 77-year old broadcaster but it significantly restricts his ability to work on other shows that are not produced by Disney (which owns ABC). In recent years, Philbin has hosted primetime programs on three networks and the house of mouse understandably wants to keep him for their own projects.

Philbin’s new contract will likely keep him from returning to do new episodes of MDP. Since he’s a big part of the show, that will almost certainly be reason enough for CBS to pass on renewing the game show for a third season.

Still, if the network wants to attract younger viewers, they could potentially replace Philbin with a younger (likely cheaper) host. Would that work? Considering their current dominance, is it a gamble CBS would be willing to take? Or, is the Password game just not that attractive to younger viewers?.

Canceled and renewed TV show

21 Comments · Read them below or add one

  1. Kathy Nicholas says

    I think CBS is making a poor executive decision to pull the plug on MDP. It’s a nice, clean, family show and Sunday night at 8pm seemed to be a perfect time slot for it. That way the kids can watch it with Mom & Dad before going to bed. If the problem is signing on Regis (which would be completely understandable on Disney’s part) then I can think of a handful of terrific hosts right off the top of my head that fill his shoes skipping a step. Don’t get me wrong, I really like Regis but I don’t think he makes the show, he will always be Mr. “Is that your final answer?” when it comes to the game show world as far as I’m concerned. So come on CBS, let us viewers continue to enjoy MDP. You won’t be sorry.

  2. Lynne Wilson says

    My husband and I were extremely happy with Password’s comeback and found ourselves coming up with clues / answers hoping that the participants could read our minds and were amazed when Regis mentioned on the RegisandKelly show today (July 13/09) that our favourite show was cancelled. Why are shows always geared to a “younger” audience, (who don’t give a damn) that only watch violence on TV? No wonder, the world is as it is today. Do other age brackets not get a chance to enjoy shows that are enjoyable, educational, and clean? Mind you, we are not prudes, but would appreciate, and thank you, for the immediate return of the show.

  3. Youpeoplesuck! says

    Password was cancelled because Regis sucks and turned it into a poor man’s version of the $25,000 Pyramid (which was basically a Password rip off) you can make all the pathetic excuses you want people (especially you Grove”I’m jealous of CBS”man) but the fact is Million Dollar Password is dead and it ain’t coming back! And that’s an order!

  4. Sue Prude says

    My Mom and I want you to know that we want to put it back on. It is better than some of the shows you have on now and cleaner. And as for the Host I think he does just fine.

  5. Groveman says

    I think the executives at CBS are idiots.

    Why does every show have to appeal to the young? What are those over 40 supposed to watch, those trash [un]reality series? Password is a GREAT game show – one of the best. There was plenty of viewership. CBS should definitely bring it back.


  6. Bebe says

    i have been searching and searching for MDP and just found this..pulled!!! PLEASE!! Such a good show…BRING IT BACK!!

  7. Laura says

    I am 32 & love this show! I think CBS should definately bring it back, Regis or no Regis. People want to see this kind of programming now more than ever. BRING PASSWORD BACK!

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  9. says

    I think that CBS should put Million Dollar Password back in production for Season 3 after cancelling it one month ago due to bad ratings. I really want CBS to put Million Dollar Password back in production for next season.
    Kevin Silvestris
    Worcester, MA

  10. Nancy says

    That certainly seems like enough people were watching. I’m totally bummed!! Why not get another host and please keep running it!

  11. Lori says

    I am just sick and tired of the networks vieing for younger viewers. As Americans age we live longer than ever before. Therefore the networks need to have a balanced programming schedule that meets the needs of all and not just aimed at the younger generation.
    Game shows generally appeal to all ages. That is why I am surprised that CBS took off Million Dollar Password. I hope that they will reconsider and bring it back in the lineup.

  12. says

    I always liked password and was happy to see it back on. I have been looking for it and deceided to look on the internet only to find out it was pulled by CBS.
    Please concider putting it back on the air.

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