In game-show terms, GSN is feeling like a returning champion. Viewership is up, the average age of viewers is down, and the network's experiment with original series is paying off.
"GSN has grown for three years straight, and 2014 was our biggest year ever," said David Goldhill, chief executive of the network, a partnership between DirecTV and Sony Pictures Television.
In February, the network had its highest-rated month ever among women ages 25-54, and GSN original series reported a social engagement rate of more than 6 percent. "Something is definitely happening," Ben Glieb, host of GSN's Idiotest, told Adweek. "The network's attitude is so inventive."
GSN, created as a home for classic 1970s game shows, has doubled the number of original hours over the last two seasons, with two new shows joining its lineup this year. Lie Detectors challenges members of the studio audience to decide if comedians' outrageous anecdotes are true. And in Steampunk'd, a design competition, contestants have to turn everyday objects into works of art in the "growing subculture" of steampunk, which combines modern and Victorian design.
The new shows—including three pilots green-lit for 2015—are all aimed at taking GSN in "a younger, cooler, hipper direction," said Amy Introcaso-Davis, evp of programming and development, at the network's Upfront 2015 in New York on Tuesday.
Some of the pilots intentionally stretch the boundaries of the game-show format. In Hellevator, contestants enter a dark, spooky warehouse via a terrifying elevator ride. They are then subjected to what Introcaso-Davis describes as "a scary, suspenseful and emotionally exhausting competition." Jason Blum, producer of films like Paranormal Activity, serves as an executive producer of the show. "We're game-ifying horror," said Introcaso-Davis.