Pricing Problems


I know where Noel Murray is coming from when he says he finds it harder to guess the prices on The Price is Right, and that the contestants have increased trouble getting it right, too. I was never great at guessing the prices, in part because I’m in Canada and we have different dollars, but I do think the contestants used to be better than me at knowing these things, and now they often seem to know even less than I do. The last time I saw the basically stupid but incredibly popular “Plinko” (I know why it’s popular, but I still feel like it’s wrong for the format of the show), and the contestant was playing the first part of the game where she has to guess between two numbers in the price of a product, I was astonished at how many of them she missed.

When I watched the show regularly in my misspent youth, one thing that was a given was that the Plinko contestants would always get more of those prices than they missed, because the producers set it up so that one number usually seemed more likely than the other (and if the contestant didn’t know, the audience would come down strongly on the side of one number). So in the first game, the contestant guesses that the price of this item probably doesn’t start with “1,” because that would make it too cheap.

Now, presented with a possible first number for the price, the contestants often have no idea whether it’s plausible or not. Same with the bidding: every time I watch, it seems like the bids vary wildly because nobody really knows what the normal price range for these items might be.

What they can do to change this — if they want to change it — I don’t know, other than changing the selection process to allow the one thing they absolutely don’t want to have on their show: stay-at-home husbands. They’ll know. But so what? As someone points out in the comments, TPIR mostly wants soldiers, hot women, college students and senior citizens as contestants, and that, at least, will not change.

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Pricing Problems

  1. There are a couple of other factors that come into play here.

    1. Drew seems to want to give away luxury and "cool" items, which tend, of course, to be more difficult for the average person to price. Giving away extravagant prizes worked all right on the original Bill Cullen version of TPIR because the format lent itself to that. It doesn't work so well on the current version, which is (supposed to be) about knowing the prices of common items.

    2. Few of the small prizes, like the ones they use in Plinko, are sponsored anymore. The producers have to go out and buy those prizes, and thus they are disinclined to give the products free plugs on the show. This is why you hear Rich Fields say things like "These chocolate chip cookies make a great after-school treat!" while the package of Chips Ahoy! is on the screen. For games where the contestants are close to the products, it's not such a problem; but try guessing the price of an electronic item from 10 feet away with no brand name or other useful description given.

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