TV Mogul (AKA Prime Time)

Platforms: DOS
Release Date: 1988, 1990
Genre(s): Simulation
Publisher(s): First Row Software
Developer: First Row Software
Get it: Download
Our Score
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One of my retro favorites, Prime Time (AKA TV Mogul) was first released in 1988, before being ‘graphically enhanced’ (for the era) and re-released in 1990 as ‘TV Mogul’.

The game really managed to grasp prime time scheduling, while encapsulating a television era. Despite its late 80s release, the game would seem to resemble a slightly earlier era in broadcast televisions heyday.

TV Mogul Office Screen

While there is relatively minimal control over your shows, for instance over cast or storylines beyond a short overall description, there are five studios just a phone call away from which you can acquire the rights to many ready-to-air series, or create your own pilots – which may take a month or two to be ready to air.

You may additionally purchase rights to special broadcasts and events, such as the Emmy’s and few other seasonal classics from days gone by.

The game is essentially in a ‘turn based’ format, like all the games in the television simulation and management genre. However, each turn in TV Mogul will advance you a month, leaving you feeling like you missed opportunities to carefully watch your ratings – which would seem to be displayed simply as a monthly average at the end of your turn. In addition to the normal advance feature you may “do lunch” which is really a bit of a gamble – usually costing you a few hundred thousand dollars – but possibly delivering an increase to your programming budget.

New series you launch tend to start with low ratings and be ‘growers’, however they can rarely grow to be hits within the time the game allows, and will often do much worse than the show before it you canceled.

Ultimately the greatest flaw of Prime Time/TV Mogul is that you are only able to play for one season, or 12 months. When you consider that each turn advances you a month in the game, a season could be quickly played in only a few minutes. This is not because the game is a demo or trial – it is the full version of the game. I suppose they just made things a lot shorter in the 80s.


In Summary

Thumbs up THE GOOD: 

  • Focus on prime time scheduling (8-11PM) is a nice break from the minutiae of all-day programming.
  • Retro vibe
  • The game that started the television network simulation genre
Thumbs up THE BAD: 

  • Limited game time – 12 months/12 turns – limits long term development of your network, ultimately missing out on possibly the best aspect – upfronts and renewals.
  • Very difficult to launch a hit
  • All new series start with very low ratings and ‘grow’ month-to-month, when in reality a tv series (at least today) will struggle to build on its premiere ratings.


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TV Mogul (AKA Prime Time), 4.3 out of 10 based on 6 ratings
Posted by tvtycoon | 06 May 2011 | Reviews

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Download: TV Mogul

Download TV Mogul (also known as Prime Time).  Read our review in full here.   {filelink=1}  
Posted 08 May 2011 | Downloads | No Comments