A TV station management simulation that puts the player in the role of a new program director for a new TV station. Originally released for the Amiga and PC by the German game developer Rainbow Arts Software. Victory can be achieved by defeating the two competing stations that are housed in the same skyscraper. The game, however will only end if you can win the heart of Betty - the beautiful host of the less than popular Culture Today. Betty's heart can be won by airing her dismally rated Culture Today show as well as through old fashioned bribery with clothes and jewelry.
Mad TV puts you in charge of a television station, focusing on the prime time schedule. As the program director, you are responsible for scheduling shows and movies as well as generating revenue with advertisements. The game is broken up into individual days and is played in sped up real time. Each of the 8 blocks making up the prime time schedule is broken into 3 pieces: News
One of the two most important daily tasks is choosing which programs to show and when. Initially you'll start with a small selection of cultural shows and an educational series. One of the first things a player will do is augment his library with films and additional series.
- Films - Films take between 2 and 4 blocks of your 8 block schedule. They can generate the largest ratings, but can only be shown periodically less the audience becomes bored. Films tend to have a smaller upfront cost than series and have a 'current' rating you can use to identify how effective the film will be next showing. Newer films have a more resilient 'current' meter than older films.
- Series - Television series can be from 5 to 10 episodes and are almost always 1 block of the 8 block schedule. Unlike films, series do not have a 'current' rating and can be shown over and over again without much drop off. However a good tv series has a much higher cost of entry than a film, and since a series takes an odd number of blocks, normally one would want to have at least two series on hand, otherwise you'll be left with a one hour gap to fill at the end of the day.
- Shows - Shows are either live or created programs. They can be anything from the NBA finals to humans walking on Mars. These are programs you can't schedule, they occur at specific times on specific days. Unlike Films and Series, Shows are not stored in your library once they air making them both very expensive and having no repeatability. Ultimately a live show will have the highest possible ratings.
Programming runs the gamut of genres from Science Fiction to Western, from Action to Adult.
The single biggest revenue generator in Mad TV is advertising. At the bottom of each hour a commercial is shown on your station. You have the ability to accept contracts from the advertising agency in your building. Every ad has specific criteria in order for you to be paid for the contract. Standard stipulations include a minimum viewership, the number of times the ad must air over the course of a few days and genre requirements such as "No love stories" or "Action or Whodunit shows". Most ad contracts have large penalties for not completing them in the agreed upon length of time.
News is the lead in to programing and sets the pace for the show. Having current and expensive news items generates viewers that carry over into your film or series and ultimately into your advertising. Starting with a good news program can turn a good evening into a great evening. The cost of news items is two fold. First, you have to subscribe to news feeds (Regular, Showbiz and Sundry) which costs $10,000 a day. Second, individual news items have to be purchased which run from $2,000 to $8,000.
Aside from trying to defeat your rivals in the ratings, you will also be vying for limited resources. Only one person can have a copy of Star Wars. If public opinion shows a favoritism to comedies, there will be a shortage of those types of films and shows.
Furthermore, there is only one elevator in the building. There will be times when you need to go downstairs but will be unable to because one of your rivals is riding the elevator. Only one programing director can be in the advertising agency or prop department at a time.
Even more extreme, is by watching the news you will notice periodic terrorist attacks aimed towards the embassy of the fictional country of Duban. The AI program directors will often change around name plates in the building directory so that their competitor's studios get blown up instead of the embassy. There is a strategic advantage to blowing up parts of your rivals studios as it will cost them $50,000 to do repairs as well as often losing some of their film collection. It is also necessary at times to blowing up another non-television office in the building, afterwards you can rent it and convert it into a larger studio for when you decided to start producing your own shows and movies from purchased screenplays.
Betty is the driving force for all 3 program directors. Winning her affection is not only necessary for the ultimate good ending, but Betty will actually give you the master key to the building - allowing you to covertly enter your competition's offices and see their future programing. Very useful to avoid conflicting schedules with big ticket programming.
As the game proceeds, you can start to purchase additional transmitters to increase the size of your audience. More audience members means bigger and more lucrative ads, but also means more expensive upkeep. For larger sums of money, satellites can be purchase which will cover one half of the entire country.
Periodically, the Sammy awards are given for the best News, Cultural and Original programming. Winning Sammy awards increases your overall 'image' which is necessary to sign larger value contracts.
Your programming can normally be placed in any time slot. Occasionally, there are restrictions with "X rated" content which have to be shown after 8 PM. Show ratings depend on both time slot as well as lead in programing.
An example of how a certain show performs in all slots. This test used The Rockford Files, which is one of the more popular tv series, lead in with other quality programming and the best available news running. Note there is no competing broadcasts and audience was nationwide.
Rockford Files Ratings
| 6 PM|| None|| 76.8 Million Viewers|
| 7 PM|| Flipper|| 73.9 Million Viewers|
| 8 PM|| James Bond: License to Kill|| 65.4 Million Viewers|
| 9 PM|| James Bond, Flipper|| 59.7 Million Viewers|
| 10 PM|| James Bond, The Purple Rose of Cairo|| 65.4 Million Viewers|
| 11 PM|| Flipper, James Bond, Purple Rose|| 56.2 Million Viewers|
| 12 PM|| Flipper, James Bond, Cyrano de Bergerac|| 54.0 Million Viewers|
As the day proceeds, TV Series lose viewers. The notable exception was when it was the first series of the day show at 10 PM, lead in with two movies.
Films tend to trend differently, with there being a ramp up towards 8PM. For this test the 4 hour film Dick Tracy was used with NO news broadcasts at all. Each hour is started with a viewing audience of 0. Again, no competing broadcasts, national audience.
Dick Tracy Ratings (4 Hour Film)
| 6 PM|| 22.7 Million|
| 7 PM|| 28.4 Million|
| 8 PM|| 210.4 Million|
| 9 PM|| 192.6 Million|
Since TV series do best early, and the highest ratings for films kicks in around 8 PM. It's usually advisable to start your schedule with two TV series, or at least a lower importance film before your big showcase programming.
Standard Schedule Layout
| 6 PM || TV Series|
| 8 PM|| TV Series|
| 7 PM|| Film or Live Event|
| 8 PM|| Film or Live Event|
| 9 PM|| Film or Live Event|
| 10 PM|| Film or LIve Event|
| 11 PM|| Film|
| 12 PM|| TV Series or Culture Today|