The Success Story of Family Feud

On a hot summer night in July 1976 – probably nowhere near as hot as today, but still pretty warm though – Mark Goodson’s new game show took America by storm. Family Feud was not exactly an instant hit, but people quickly grew accustom to the format. 40 years later it’s still one of the top five most popular syndicated television shows in the US. Its popularity is also shown in the fact that just recently it has been rated third on the list of the greatest game shows of all time by TV Guide.

TV history

In the mid ‘70s Mark Goodson was “T-H-E” game show guy in America. By that time, he had already come up with such classics as ‘Beat the Clock’, ‘The Price Is Right’, ‘What’s My Line? and ‘Match Game’ (and many more via his production company: most of these are still running on TV). He presented his new show in 1976 as a loose spinoff to “The Match Game”. After a few months of struggling ratings finally rocketed and Feud quickly become one of the top-rated daytime game shows on TV – and stayed there for many-many years. Fast forward a couple of years: six hosts, two cancellations and two reboots later Family Feud is still among the most popular shows in the US! With more, than 50 foreign adaptations Family Feud is also well known around the world.

The survey says…

…that Family Feud is the most popular game show on team building programs, classrooms, company celebrations and even in family events (45%). So, if you’d like to join in and create your own show, you’ll need to do the following:

Prepare for the game show:

  1. Find or acquire survey data. You probably won’t be able to do your own surveys – but you can always google for some good questions online. You’d definitely want to check out Reddit where multiple communities offer a wide selection of databases suitable for Feud games. This one is our favorite!
  2. Choose the most interesting/funny questions and create a master answer sheet. Remember: the host will need to be able to see at least the top 4 or 5 responses for each question!
  3. Set up the game environment: if you cannot use a computer, you can write the answers on a larger sheet of paper then cover them with post-its. Get creative: strike markers can be created from bean bags or colored light bulbs! Also: don’t forget to bring a timer device (it can be a smartphone) and a buzzer for each team – a few beans in an empty beer can is a low-cost solution 🙂
    You may use a DIY kit for the game…but if you have the chance to use a fancy, ready-to-go, superpowered software solution, why don’t you choose it? 😉

Playing the game

  1. Have a host and two teams
  2. Follow the rules of the game show (if you can’t recall them precisely, here are the official rules or use this fan created version that is slightly more “reader-friendly”). Remember: you don’t need to follow the original rules very strictly – you’ll probably want to change the number of points needed to win a game, the amount of time contestants have to submit their answers, etc.
  3. At the end the team with the highest total point wins.

Learn from the professional!

If you wish to create a really successful “Family Feud” type of game, the creators of this game show shared a few pointers on how to do so. Let’s have a look!

  • Add lot of humor to the questions, but make sure your gags will be understood by most/all participants (viewers)
  • Have a pleasant, congenial host who can really get your contestant feel relaxed (especially if they are playing in front of a larger/unknown audience)
  • Your host should be prepared for the most crazy answers – and should handle it perfectly. Humiliating people is never a good idea, rather the host should make a good joke of the most insane responses (as Steve Harvey does) or take it seriously (as Richard Dawson used to do)
  • Try to make the two teams as different as possible, but the contestants should be outgoing and cheerful and not afraid to laugh – even at themselves.
  • Add a practice round at the beginning. To make sure everyone understands the game (and your custom rules) completely, you should start a game show with a practice round if that is possible.


If you like retro stuff you’ll definitely want to check out the very first episode with the Moseleys competing with the Abramowitz family. Every second of this video is pure gold ‘70s nostalgia.

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