ABC’s “Bingo Night” discovery heralds change

According to Broadcasting & Cable, the alphabet network has decided to renew National Bingo Night thanks to a very real metric provided by By Nielsen standards, “Bingo” should not be getting a second life, because the ratings were very poor for the interactive show.

But the online numbers tell a different tale, and that’s going to spawn a whole new series of shows with interactive elements that can be accurately measured. It’s also a significant chink in the armor of the Nielsen paradigm and one that will be exploited in many ways downstream.

“Nielsen claimed the numbers were what they were, but there was definitely a disconnect,” (ABC Entertainment President Steve) McPherson says of the show’s audience. “We have concrete online numbers that don’t lie.”

The show gave viewers the ability to go online and download their own Bingo cards and play along, with home viewers winning more than $550,000 throughout the show’s run.

More than 3 million Bingo cards were downloaded before the series even debuted on May 18, and weekly numbers grew online more than 10% a week. All that spelled profit for, which saw traffic skyrocket.

ABC racked up more than 22 million Bingo card downloads overall. The Bingo cards helped more than double its unique users in May from the same month a year earlier, to more than 14.6 million. The site finished the month of May as the top entertainment TV site, according to MediaMetrix and Nielsen NetRatings.

Show creator Andrew Glassman said, “We don’t need focus groups to tell us what’s working and not working. We have a team of people reading e‑mails and answering questions and dealing with technical issues, so we hear it directly. And all the broadcasters are looking very carefully for this interactive component and not just voting or texting in to win.”

It will be interesting to see what ABC does with advertising for the new run of “Bingo” in December. Will sales be based on Nielsens or some hybrid? The times they are a‑changing.


  1. often a critic of network efforts online i’ll say in this instance the show is great in that it reaches out to an inherently OLDER audience.

    “$550,000” given away will get someone who can actually switch on a computer at the old folks’ home to print off cards for everyone!

    it’s no secret many older folks want nothing to do with online anything… except maybe if it’s legal tender.


  1. […] Terry Heaton talks about the renewal of ABC’s National Bingo Night By Nielsen standards, “Bingo” should not be getting a second life, because the ratings were very poor for the interactive show. […]

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