|Syndicated, January 7, 1980 - September 12, 1980|
|Jay Stewart, Bob Hilton|
|KTTV Television, Los Angeles, California|
Play the Percentages was a game show in which contestants answered questions which were previously asked to hundreds of people.
Two married couples competed. One contestant from each couple was asked to estimate what percentage of 300 people answered a specific question correctly. Whoever was closest to the actual percentage, high or low, scored the actual percentage points. If both contestants guessed the same percentage, either contestant was given the option to change their estimate.
The contestant who scored the points could then either answer the question (without conferring with his or her spouse) or challenge his or her opponent to answer. A right answer or a successful challenge added the remaining percentage points to the couple's score. For examle, if 53% answered the question correctly, a team earned 53 points for the closer guess and could earn an additional 47 points from a correct answer to the question or a successful challenge.
If the contestant with the initial control missed the question, the opponent could steal the points. Originally, a successful challenge also allowed the contestant to answer the question for the same number of points. Play alternated until a couple reached 300 points, at which point the team doing so won the game and $300.
Originally, if a team guessed the percentage exactly right, they won the game automatically. Later, in addition to winning the game, the team won a cash jackpot that started at $10,000 for an exact guess, and the jackpot increased by $1,000 each game it was not won. Any couple who won five consecutive games received a new car.
Solo contestant formatEdit
On March 3, 1980, the format was overhauled. Two individual contestants, one a returning champion, competed in a straight quiz. Three categories were in play in each game. Two of them were chosen by the contestants randomly before the game, with the categories being what the contestants believed they knew the most about. The third category, called Potluck, was a general knowledge category.
A round started with a category being determined by a randomizer, and two questions were asked in that category. The challenger chose a value from ten to ninety points in ten point increments for the first question with the points based on the percentage of the people surveyed who answered the question incorrectly, rounded to the nearest zero. Answering correctly earned the challenger the points, but the champion could steal them if the challenger did not answer correctly. The second question was played the same way, but with the champion determining the value.
If one of the two preselected categories was chosen, both questions would be asked in turn. If Potluck was chosen, both questions were toss-ups and could be answered by either player by buzzing in. Later, every question became a toss-up.
The first contestant to reach 250 points won the game, $500, and advanced to the bonus round. If there was no winner after five rounds, a final toss-up question decided the winner, who then advanced to the bonus round. Any contestant who won five consecutive games won a new car.
The couple gave a target percentage that was larger than zero. The host read a question and three possible answers. One answer (usually the correct one) was the most popular and awarded the most points. Another choice was a less popular answer, and the third answer received no response and scored zero points. The couple chose an answer and scored points based on the percentage of the poll that also gave that response.
If the couple chose an answer which scored 0%, the bonus round ended immediately. The couple could also choose to end the bonus round at any time and take $10 per point earned. However, if a couple accumulated 100 points or more, the couple won $2,500. Also, if a couple chose an answer with a percentage that matched exactly the percentage stated at the start of the bonus round, the couple won a cash jackpot that started at $25,000 and increased by $1,000 each day.
Starting the week of January 14, the format was changed to remove the jackpot. Also, if a couple chose the second-most popular response to a question, they were then required to choose the most-popular answer from the remaining two choices available before moving to the next question.
A single question was presented with a list six possible answers. Five of the answers were given by the survey respondents, and one answer was not given. Contestants chose answers one-at-a-time, winning $10 per point or $2,500 for guessing all five actual responses and avoiding the answer with 0%. As before, selecting the answer with 0% ended the game and forfeited all bonus winnings up to that point. The $2,500 cash prize was later replaced with a prize package worth between $3,000 and $3,500.
When the format changed from couples to individual contestants, the champion was permitted to bring a spouse, other relative or friend onstage, but only for moral support—the champion was the only person who selected answers.
To ensure that the percentage points in this format always added up to 100%, the points awarded were based on the percentage of the people who responded with that answer in relation to the five most popular answers of that survey, not the actual number of people who gave that answer.
From February 18 until the program's cancellation, the same prize package was at stake for the entire show until won.
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