What do Britain's Got Talent, Red or Black, The X Factor, Blockbusters, Saturday Night Takeaway, The Price Is Right, Deal Or No Deal, Benidorm, Big Brother and Coronation Street all have in common? The answer is that they all have or have had bingo tie-ins! We don't mean in terms of advertising or sponsorship as is the case for Emmerdale and Jeremy Kyle, but actual physical games that players can play.
The TV tie-in has developed considerably since Jackpotjoy launched a bingo game based on The Price Is Right. The difference between that game and those that followed was that the gameshow had long since left our screens. The trend nowadays is to have a current themed products running alongside the series to maximise any promotions. So for example we get No Lose Bingo at Mecca running during the current season of The X Factor.
A TV tie-in is not a sure route to success though. Few of the tie-ins have had the longevity of Deal Or No Deal, for example we think Britain's Got Talent Bingo has now ran it's course. Red or Black was Jackpotjoy's last forage in this area and sadly for them (and Simon Cowell) the show wasn't a success. The less said about the Benidorm and Big Brother branded sites the better!
In our view, what made most of the TV tie-in bingo games more interesting for players was that each game brought something new to the table, although the general format was usually the same. A normal 90 ball bingo game is played and it's then followed by a fun bonus round related to the TV programme in question. However the arrival of Coronation Street Bingo brings a considerable change in direction for the TV tie-in!
What concerns us is what next for TV and bingo? Does the arrival of Corrie herald the start of more 'lazy' rebrands? The Corrie rebrand is lazy because it brings nothing extra other than the name. Corrie Bingo is actually a themed 90 ball room with standard 90 ball games. The variations are simply the same as those that you'd find in a normal 90 ball room at any Virtue Fusion site. Scrape away the cobbles and clips of the soap and in fact Gala are offering nothing more than another exclusive room to their players.
Of course there's a little more to it than that as Gala will be able to run special giveaways but we actually want something more when it comes to variants. A branded room may give Gala added leverage over their competitors and Soap Opera viewers may be more tempted to play in a themed room than a non-themed one - but that doesn't mean Gala couldn't have made the games a bit more exciting. Bonus rounds work for Deal Or No Deal, Saturday Night Takeaway and X Factor so why not Coronation Street? Takeaway even have their own special weekly prize game so again why not Corrie?
The fact is that this themed room could well mean themed rooms for the likes of Emmerdale and other ITV programmes. Emmerdale are already associated with bingo so their own room with a sponsor such as Bet365 wouldn't be a massive surprise. Perhaps operators are already looking at a Downton Abbey room or, heavens forbid, Loose Women version! Mind you, when you start to consider other options it soon becomes apparent that the quiz or game show route has perhaps dried up. Can you name a popular quiz or game show currently on ITV?
Operators do need to keep refreshing their options to encourage new players and bring brand lapsed ones, but we're worried that the TV tie-in route is limited. By rebranding rooms rather than trying to offer new games or variations on the basics it means nothing actually new is added to the mix. Operators seem reluctant to try something new and even Tombola, the leaders of innovation in this sector, seem to have paired back on changing the game's format. In 2014 it may well mean that they'll be loads of bingo ads on the TV, and loads of TV on bingo sites. That could make the game as interesting as an ITV evening schedule.
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