If you’ve ever asked yourself – How do game shows make money? – then you should know that this is a great question. After all, game shows take a lot of money to produce and many give away large amounts as prizes. So how come they make still money?

Game shows generate revenue through a combination of these 6 strategies: advertising, product placement, licensing fees, syndication rights, merchandise sales, and pay-per-view.

Let’s explore each of these strategies and corresponding revenue sources in detail. Maybe you can apply some of these concepts to your own business!

How Do Game Shows Make Money?

Here are the most common ways in which game shows monetize their content and make money:

  1. Advertising
  2. Product Placement & Branded Content
  3. Licensing fees
  4. Syndication rights
  5. Merchandise sales
  6. Pay-per-view

1. Advertising

Like most television programs, game shows make a large portion of their revenue from advertising. Advertisers are willing to pay top dollar to reach the engaged audiences that tune in to watch these popular programs.

Advertisers are also attracted to game shows because they tend to have a high number of viewers in the lucrative 18-49 age demographic. This is the age group that advertisers are most interested in reaching.

When it comes to advertising on game shows, there are a few different options available. The most common are traditional commercial breaks that air during the show. These spots are typically 30 or 60 seconds in length.

Advertisers can also sponsor specific segments or challenges on the show. This is known as “integrated marketing” and it can be a great way to reach viewers in a more subtle way.

2. Product Placement and Branded Content

Some game shows will sell advertising that appears on-screen during the actual gameplay. This can take the form of product placement or “branded content”.

Product placement

Product placement is when brands pay to have their products featured in the show. For example, a game show might have a challenge where contestants have to identify a product that is prominently displayed during the gameplay.

Another example of product placement on a game show would be if the host was using a particular brand of a laptop during the show.

Product placement is becoming increasingly common as brands look for new ways to reach consumers. It can be an effective way to reach viewers who are already engaged with the content.

Branded content

Branded content is when a brand pays to have their product featured in the show, but there is no integration with the gameplay.

An example of branded content would be if a game show was sponsored by a particular brand of car. The cars would be prominently displayed during the show, but they would not be part of the actual gameplay.

Both product placement and branded content are effective ways for brands to reach consumers. However, product placement is typically more expensive because it requires a higher level of integration with the show.

3. Licensing Fees

Game shows are often licensed to be shown in other countries. The fee that is paid for this right can be significant, especially for popular programs.

Licensing fees are typically paid by the broadcaster who is airing the show in their country. This can be a terrestrial broadcaster, like a TV station, or it could be a cable or satellite channel.

Licensing fees vary depending on the popularity of the show and the size of the market. For example, a popular game show that airs in the United States will typically command a higher fee than the same show airing in a smaller market, like Australia.

The fees that are paid for game shows can be very lucrative for the producers. It is not uncommon for a popular game show to generate millions of dollars in licensing fees every year.

4. Syndication Rights

Once a game show has aired for a certain number of seasons, it can then be sold into syndication. This means that the show is then aired by local stations across the country.

During syndication, game shows air in different time slots on different days of the week. This allows local stations to customize their programming schedule to fit their needs.

The benefit of syndication is that it allows the show to reach a wider audience.

5. Merchandise Sales

Many game shows also generate revenue from merchandise sales. This can include anything from T-shirts and mugs to board games, toys and DVDs.

Merchandise sales can be a very significant source of revenue for game shows, sometimes even more than advertising especially for shows that are popular with children.

And children will continue to buy merchandise related to their favorite shows long after the show has ended.

6. Pay-Per-View

Some game shows are also shown on pay-per-view television. This means that viewers must pay a certain fee to watch the show.

Pay-per-view is a different model than traditional television, where viewers typically do not have to pay to watch shows.

Pay-per-view is typically only used for special events, like boxing matches or major sporting events. However, some game shows have been shown on pay-per-view, especially if they are part of a larger event, like a game show tournament.


For anyone who wonders – How do game shows make money? – the answer lies in the creativity of those who design, produce and market the show.

First, game shows need to draw large audiences so that they become attractive to advertisers. Advertising still brings in the bulk of the revenue for most game shows. But smart show design also means that game shows can make money from product placements and branded content.

Product placement can be a very effective way to increase consumer brand awareness in a very subtle way.

Next, there are licensing fees and syndication. Successful game shows are often licensed out of their country of origin. This can bring in a substantial amount of revenue for the producers. The same goes with syndication when the show is aired by local stations across the country.

Game shows are also sometimes limited to pay-per-view TV. This way the show earns direct money from subscribers who pay to see the show.

Finally, there is the merchandise. Fans of a game show will sometimes spend more money on the merchandise than they would to watch the show itself.

As you can see, there are many different ways that game shows make money. By understanding how these shows generate revenue, perhaps you could apply some of these concepts to your own business!