Despite low ratings, ABC has decided to order additional episodes of its National Bingo Night game show. It seems the network is having some doubts about the Nielson numbers.
The game show debuted on Friday, May 18th and attracted just 6.1 million viewers. The following week’s airing dropped to 5.7 million and, by the end of the series’ six week try-out, viewership had fallen to only 3.5 million.
With a ratings decline like this, the network would normally drop a series like National Bingo Night and it would never be heard from again. But in this case, the online component caught the network’s attention and they decided that the reported ratings weren’t accurate.
The game show gave viewers an opportunity to download their own Bingo Night cards on ABC.com and play along. Home viewers won more that $550,000 through the show’s six week run. Over three million bingo cards were downloaded before the series debuted and that number grew 10% each week. By the end, over 22 million bingo cards had been downloaded. This resulted in doubling the website’s usual traffic, making it the top TV entertainment site for the month of May. This increase spelled additional profit for the network via online advertising.
ABC Entertainment President Steve McPherson said, “It is fair to say this show was saved by the fact that, while its ratings numbers weren’t as impressive, that was totally contradicted by everything else we saw online.” He continued, “Nielsen claimed the numbers were what they were, but there was definitely a disconnect. We have concrete online numbers that don’t lie.”
Hosted by Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’s Ed Sanders, National Bingo Night is now set to return for five consecutive airings for the week of December 17th. If its audience continues to grow, it’s a safe bet that it will return a second time.