'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire' Returns to U.K.'s ITV With Play-Along Game

"Who Wants to Be a Millionaire"

UDPATED: Technology firm Visiware wants to soon roll out a second-screen experience for U.S. reality and game shows.

LONDON -- U.K. commercial network ITV on Monday night brought back the long-running Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, but with a twist in the form of a play-along online game that wants to make the show more of a social experience.

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Who Wants to be a Millionaire was working with French-U.S. company Visiware's PlayAlong social TV platform that the company also wants to roll out in partnership with U.S. networks starting later this year. The idea is to take over the second screens -- computers in this case as a planned mobile app was axed by ITV at the last second, according to reports -- that many TV viewers view these days while in front of the TV and use them to increase their engagement with a show.

"This show is near-perfect for play-along as everyone at home thinks they know the answer -- now they can test themselves properly," explained ITV's head of entertainment and digital channels, online Tom Dolan.

The U.K. version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire is back for its 14th year at 9pm after two years of celebrity editions. People can answer the contestants' questions as they play along online.

Viewer performance updates and contestants' ability to "ask the nation" for advice on questions were supposed to keep the show interactive in the mobile app that could still be used in the future.

"You don't get to win any money as the game is just for fun -- but you can go head-to-head with your friends and family in a battle to see who the Millionaire genius is," the ITV web site emphasized.

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"We want to see it in the United States as well," Harris Larney, Visiware's general manager of North America, told THR about possible play-along options. "We are trying to bring what we're doing in Europe to the U.S. and focus on game shows and reality TV," with possible first partnerships ready for the fall season, he said.

What are the benefits of the social TV experience? "It allows audiences to engage" and potentially grow the viewership of a show, the Visiware executive said.

Advertisers benefit from that added engagement, but they could also use the platform to  create new forms of ads on the second screen, such as a way to ask for more information about a product or one-click purchase options, he said.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai