NBC’s new poker show “Face the Ace” debuted on NBC on Saturday night, with contestant Don Topel winning $200,000. This week, he’ll go for $1 million. Despite the high-stakes drama, “Face the Ace” premiered in last place in the ratings.

“Face the Ace” aired from 9:00pm ET to 10:00pm ET on Saturday night. According to television ratings provided by TVByTheNumbers.com, during its first half-hour, the series of heads-up poker matches garnered a 0.4 rating with a 2 share, equating to 1.59 million viewers. Of the four major networks in the United States, NBC took last during that time slot. FOX, which aired an episode of “America’s Most Wanted,” claimed the top spot with a 1.5 rating and 6 share, or 4.43 million viewers.

During its first half-hour, “Face the Ace” also squared off against the ABC movie “Red Eye,” which kicked off at 8:00pm ET and ran for three hours. During the 9:00pm ET to 9:30pm ET time slot, “Red Eye,” claimed a 0.7 rating with a 3 share, good for the second best tally with 3.27 million viewers. Finally, CBS aired a rerun of “Numb3rs” between 9:00pm ET and 10:00pm ET. During the hour-long show’s first 30 minutes, “Numb3rs” also generated a 0.7 rating with a 3 share, equating to 3.26 million viewers and falling just short of the ABC movie.

During its second half-hour, “Face the Ace” was up against the same three shows. “America’s Most Wanted” once again led the way with a 1.6 rating and a 6 share for 4.78 million viewers. “Red Eye” claimed a 0.9 rating and a 4 share, which translated into 3.82 million viewers. “Numb3rs” boasted a 0.7 rating with a 3 share, good for 3.57 million viewers. Once again, “Face the Ace” rounded out the top four, taking a 0.4 rating with a 2 share. The poker television show attracted 1.54 million viewers.

Several NBC affiliates pre-empted “Face the Ace” for local programming, including the Houston and Detroit affiliates, two of the largest markets in the country. Formerly airing in the time slot currently held by “Face the Ace” was “Kings,” likely a much pricier series to produce. Therefore, NBC’s margin may be slightly higher on “Face the Ace.” A poster on TVByTheNumbers.com noted that despite “Face the Ace’s” sluggish ratings, “Kings also had a price tag that was how much bigger?” Full Tilt Poker sponsors “Face the Ace”. All of its “aces” are pros of the online poker site.

TVByTheNumbers.com reports ratings for viewers aged 18 to 49. “Face the Ace,” as a poker-themed show, does not target the full spectrum of this demographic. “Poker After Dark,” NBC’s daily poker show, airs at 2:05am ET. This week’s match-up is entitled “Close But No Cigar” and includes players who have reached the final table of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event, but have yet to claim a title in the $10,000 buy-in feature tournament: Mike Matusow, Lee Watkinson, Allen Cunningham, Dewey Tomko, Andy Black, and David Williams.

A thread that appeared on the online poker forum PocketFives.com recommended several improvements for future episodes of “Face the Ace,” including having a contestant’s loved ones on stage rooting them on (in a similar fashion to the NBC game show “Deal or No Deal”), Full Tilt Poker pros railing their colleagues, a player winning an on-stage sit and go to face an ace, and a new host.

“Face the Ace” will air this Saturday, August 8th, at 9:00pm ET. Then, it can be seen once per month until January of 2010. Show officials described the first two primetime episodes as an opportunity to “test the waters” for future programming choices. Here’s when you can catch “Face the Ace”:

August 8th, 2009 – 9:00pm ET
September 12th, 2009 – 2:00pm ET
October 31st, 2009 – 3:30pm ET
November 14th, 2009 – 3:00pm ET
December 12th, 2009 – 3:00pm ET
January 2nd, 2010 – 2:30pm ET

We want to know what you think. What would improve the ratings for NBC’s “Face the Ace”? Leave a comment and voice your choice.

14 Comments

  1. Justin says:

    What would help rating? How about moving it to a different night. This show appeals to basically two different types of guys:

    The hard core internet poker nerd, if he has free time on a Saturday night he is probably actually playing poker. Regardless of the night shown you probably won’t get a lot of these types as viewers as the truly hard core ones will always be playing instead of watching.

    The other type is the casual player, that also like the thrill and big stakes of Vegas and winning a bunch of money, namely my type. And my type tends to go out on Saturday nights as opposed to staying home and watching TV. I can see watching this show frequently on say a Tuesday night, I can almost never anticipate watching it if it stays on Saturdays.

  2. Jim says:

    Why is the program not shown in Houston? Is it driven politically because Texas does not have gambling (excluding horses, dogs, lotto, and bingo), or is the program director of the local NBC affiliate in possession of some higher moral standard??

  3. Stone Manly says:

    I was playing a live game Saturday nite and 3 of us semi-hardcore players had DVR’d it. NBC is not going to put in on on Tuesday because the network actually expects to get OK ratings for its Tuesday night shows. Saturday night would be about the only (slim) hope for a poker show like this to work, and even then only during the summer probably, unless they could somehow make it interesting enough for your average non-poker fan to watch it. They gotta make it more “reality-show-ish” somehow I suppose.
    How ’bout if you lose the match, you gotta eat a big bowl of pine weevils, but if you win the match, the pretty Hawaiian hostess let’s you get to second base with her on camera. Then my friend, we’d have a winner with the American viewing audience.

  4. marlene says:

    why was this blacked out in the Detroit area??????

  5. Dan Cypra says:

    Houston preempted it because of a documentary on a local hospital. Detroit had an infomercial showing instead of Face the Ace. We’ll see how the ratings do this weekend.

  6. Mark says:

    In Utah, we didn’t get it because the Mormon church owns the tv station (KSL) that plays NBC here. Because they think gambling will send you straight to hell, they decided to censor it and show reruns of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (not even the good ones, the crappy ones with Meredith). Epic fail Utah.

  7. Des says:

    UHM, airing it once a month from now on? Well I did enjoy it, but the host was annoying and airing it on a Saturday is also not a good idea. Try weekdays! As much as I liked it, you have the ‘typical’ non-poker-playing guy/girl to draw in here. It’s more of a show for the die hards, the ones who actually know who these ‘pros’ the average schmos are playing and ones who know what poker is.

  8. redhawk says:

    I liked it… was fun and different…loved steve schirripa and mega abrigo is tremendous… i’ll watch whenever i can..the nerds who are complaining would complain no matter what type of show it was…. this is more fun and entertainment and we watched as a group and LOVEd it!!

    Hope to see more of it!

  9. Lee says:

    The host absolutely sucked! I was attempting to enjoy the show, but kept finding myself annoyed by the “clueless” host. Why not just make Ali Nejad the host? Also, put the money on the table, like they do when it’s heads-up in a normal tournament setting.

    I like the thought of having the contestants family and friends there to cheer him on. The same for the other pros railing their fellow player. That would allow for a more high spirited match. I agree that Saturday evening will not produce positive ratings. I’m really not sure if poker is capable of achieving ratings such as it did back in 2003 -2007. I think you have your core following, but to be a top ratings getter in prime time might be asking too much. PAD (poker after dark) does it right. Follow their lead.

  10. Flovilla819 says:

    I do follow poker for the most part, so I enjoyed the show. But I definitely agree with Lee above – it would be an improvement to change the day and liven things up on stage, but also I think one major thing would help: Give the contestant SOME sort of prize or parting cash!! If they end up losing EVERYTHING, it doesn’t leave a Feel-Good vibe with the audience. I think it would be better to follow the Millionaire model and instead let them drop back to $1K for the first round, and $10K for round II, etc. Makes it really anti-climactic to just be “Okay, well bummer for you, be on your way now”.

    Also, I agree that they should try to interest the non-poker community…maybe do some mini-features to explain the game, or tell more about the pros, etc. I like the concept and hope they make the improvements to keep it around.

  11. mp831 says:

    I’m a big poker fan and watch the professional tours etc. I thought this was an interesting set-up but I agree with preceeding replies. It needs some more action in the back ground and let the poor loser leave with something.

    The host was a little annoying but still entertaining. I’d like to see another poker pro as the host…Annie Duke???

    I’d watch it whatever day it was on.

    Keep trying…it’s a fun and different show. Tired of cops and docs.

  12. WhrPitViper says:

    everyone~ host, guests, pros all seemed awkward and nervous. add norman chad and bring ali najad to the front

  13. There for a while we received lots of poker almost every day. Now it is hard to find even one show. We watch and love it. We loved the fact that there was something to watch on Saturday. I agree with some of the readers why is it blacked out in some States? Just because we have politicians that want to force their beliefs on all of us. I for one will vote for the guy who lets us watch what we want on TV. The poker community should watch the stations that continue to exclude the games and exclude them from our veiwing. There are a ton of us across the country and growing daily. As far as eating pine weevils we are sick of every show especially on the Travel Channel having men eating sickening bugs etc. Give us back the Travel Channel and our Poker tournaments.

  14. Josh Parker says:

    I liked the show it has a good thing for non pros like my self get a chance to make a name for them selfs. I have been playen poker for like 4years now still a rookie. pluss it should help full tilt a chance to become a big poker site like poker stars. becuase to get into the show you must play on full tilt. the days iam not sure what would be best for it but the theam was alittle off. I like to see alittle more of a poker game not a tv game show. high stakes poker was a cool show the feel was huge on every bet haveing live cash on the table. hey you should follow that aspect haveing live cash along with chips will had one hell of a feel to the game. Pluss have it in a reall consino not some stag like a tv game show come on guys this is poker not wheel of fortuon or lets make a deal. Pluss you should bring back the hosts from high stakes poker they kicked assssssssss. they where funny and gave the new meening to hosting a poker game. Iam sure the aces or the pros would also be a little more happier if the host would also let the game play out not stoping it ever time some one gos all in to say hey this is the momment of turth there all in, i know it is to take time and fell in the caps but dude iam playen poker and watching a poker match i dont need the host to stop the action and slow things down with the host jumping in, that is what the dang commantater is for that is why they are there to talk and not be seen lol. pluss thiss will also let more contestant winners play meening istead of watchin one or two you get more people playig in one show this would deffinatly build up the viewers because if they see hwo many people get the chance to win a million the more you will get playin on full tilt thus building bigger revinew for the show and the site and poker players around the globe. plus for the comment above they do give out prizes man they pay your sitcket there room and give you 500 bucks spended money or did you not go to full tilt if not then get your but there man and play in them free rolls. there you go i ahope this helps out the show later. in fact let me host the dang show lols iam sure i could do one heck of a better job then steve shurpa lol. hey man you did good on sapranos kid but this is poker let people who know the game do the talking kapish lol.

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