Friday, January 14, 2011

BET gets a 2nd chance with 'The Game'

When we last left our motley crew of fictitious NFL footballers and the women who love them, they had been unceremoniously kicked to the curb by The CW. The network claimed they were moving to a long-form drama format in which The Game wouldn't fit -- no doubt coincidentally, it being the last "black" show on the channel. Fans launched an impressive online campaign to save the series, and creator Mara Brock Akil even changed the show to a drama-filled hour to fit in with The CW's new format. But no dice -- by 2009 the show was off the air, the characters seemingly left in syndication purgatory forever.

However an unlikely rescuer came in the form of BET. The network swooped in shortly after it was canceled by The CW, promising the show would go on, and leaving die hard fans both relieved and worried. It was great to know that our favorite show was going to hang around for a few more episodes, but BET? Not exactly the shining emblem of quality TV.

Lucky for BET, their big gamble paid off. After promoting the show for what felt like years, a record 7.7 million viewers tuned in for the Tuesday premiere. That's BET's second-biggest audience ever, behind only the 2009 BET Awards. It also set a record as the biggest ad-supported scripted series premier in cable history.

Take these numbers into consideration with The Game's average audience on The CW, around 2 million, and the jump is even more notable. In a period of two years the series found another 5 million viewers, pointing to one very obvious fact -- black America is starved for good TV.

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