Believe and Hulu Put Some of Their Money on a Game Show, and Win

It’s not the most elaborate game show in the world—in fact, the winning prize is provided by another player—but Believe Entertainment Group, which is carving a niche for itself in the streaming video business, is proud to say that its first season of “Money Where Your Mouth Is” the top game show…of the winter…on Hulu and Hulu Plus.

That’s not getting them in the Guinness Book of World Records, since the game shows on Hulu are off-network programs, not original productions. Still, the game show, really more of a comedy vehicle for Jay Mohr than a competition, is in Hulu’s top 40 with men 25-44, the target demo. And it's a good deal for Campbell’s Chunky, which gets a nice promotional pop.

For Dan Goodman, one of Believe's co-founders, getting that kind of traction is a good thing. “The show is competing with things like "Jeopardy" and "Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader." The fact we’ve never had the promotion, advertising or marketing says something,” he says.

So does the fact that the show exists. “Every year at NewFronts, everybody announces these shows. No one ever comes back to tell you, ‘Here’s what happened.’ They all kind of disappear.”

The game show is ridiculously simple. Three best friends, all guys, show up to answer guy-like questions, such as “Who was president the year the Cubs last won the World Series?” The winner getting the prized possession of the two losers.

In the premiere episode, those items were a World War II flight jacket that belonged to a great uncle, a beaded necklace the contestant got in Kenya, and an Teenage Mutant Turtle figurine. The rules are casual; Mohr gives extra points for pithy asides, and keeps the game clock in his head. The episode are also a little shorter than the game shows you see at home, but not much—they average just about 18 or 19 minutes.

Believe came up with the format and it worked for Campbell’s Chunky, which uses it to fortify its standing as an NFL-endorsed brand. The pieces all fell together. While “Money/Mouth” feels like something that could occupy a slot on male-oriented Spike or Comedy Central, Goodman says Believe doesn’t work that way.

“Our first window is always digital. We think it’s a completely different dynamic. We never shopped this to TV first.” Though, he says, a digital success is a way to prove a show’s momentum, and that would be valuable if, later on, something from Believe makes that migration.

Believe is all over the digital space, recently launching “@EpicEDM” a dance music series, for the Twitter space,  and produced “The LeBrons” animated Web series featuring NBA star LeBron James, for Xbox, among other projects.

I asked Goodman if online video's moment has arrived. He’s not sure. “I don’t think there’s a single moment you can ever point to. It’s all 20/20 hindsight. If we’re in that moment in time, we’ll never know," he says. "That’s why I think something like "Money Where Your Mouth Is" is important. It says, OK, this worked! And we need more successes, not flash in the pan events that come and go.”

He recognizes the Mohr show isn’t some "House of Cards" event. “But these are kind of important moments, just a small simple moment” and someday, there will be bigger things.       

pj@mediapost.com

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