Hoping to cash in on the viral cachet of one of the hottest mobile games, CBS announced that it had bought the rights to produce a new game show based on the wildly popular Pictionary-style game, "Draw Something."
The social networking game's TV incarnation will be similar in format to the classic Pictionary board game, or "Win, Lose or Draw," an NBC show that began airing in 1987, before many "Draw Something" users were even born. "Win, Lose or Draw" operated under a similar premise, in which stars competed against each other in teams using old-fashioned implements such as markers and paper. There was also a short-lived "Pictionary" game show hosted by Alan Thicke, which aired during the 1997-1998 season.
The "Draw Something" pilot will be produced by Sony Pictures Television, Ryan Seacrest Productions and Embassy Row, reportedly after a multiple-network bidding war, according to "The Hollywood Reporter." Michael Davies of "The Glee Project," and Ryan Seacrest Productions’ CEO Adam Sher are on board to executive produce the pilot.
The show’s host, however, is still up in the air, and the famously busy Seacrest is not expected to fill the title role.
CBS is so far planning on inviting a mix of celebrities and everyday people to play the game in front of a live audience, for the chance to earn cash prizes. There may also be an option for viewers watching at home to participate and earn prizes as well. No word yet as to whether said teams will be drawing while also marooned on a desert island.
The network has described the show as an unscripted reality show. “Each week, teams of celebrities and everyday users will test their skills in front of a studio audience to earn money and big laughs. Viewers can also play along at home for a chance to win prizes and compete with the celebrities,” CBS said in a press release.
The mobile and tablet game is the latest acquisition of app giant Zynga, of "Farmville" and "Words With Friends" fame. The mobile game giant made headlines with its 2011 stock offering. Zynga acquired OMGPOP, the makers of "Draw Something" in March of this year for close to 200 million dollars.
In its first six weeks on the app market, "Draw Something" had a meteoric rise. The game was downloaded 35 million times. Fingers around the world were “drawing” approximately 3,000 stick-finger masterpieces each second. CBS hopes the game's instant, viral popularity can now be converted into a devoted audience of weekly viewers.
But there are signs that the network may already have missed its chance. At the time of its purchase by Zynga, the game sat atop the Apple Store charts. It has since dropped in popularity somewhat. In May, The Wall Street Journal reported that the game’s Facebook logins have dropped from a high of around 14.5 million daily users, to around 7.6 million.