July 1, 1974-January 2, 1975


NBC Daytime


Don Pardo

Produced by

Bob Stewart Productions

"You can double your money with every word and you may win over $100,000, or you may go broke. The decision is yours...This is Winning Streak!"

"Winning Streak", a Bob Stewart Production hosted by Bill, replaced "Three on a Match", a Bob Stewart Production hosted by Bill, on NBC. After reading these rules, you'll wonder why they didn't just extend "Three on a Match."

Okay, pay attention. Two contestants, one a returning champion, compete. The contestants are shown a board with 16 letters and a category. One contestant chooses a letter, and Bill asks a toss-up question, the correct answer of which begins with said letter (a la the later series "Blockbusters"). Buzzing in with the correct answer wins the letter, but a wrong answer gives the letter to your opponent.

The contestants both had a seven-space row in front of them, and the contestant who won the letter chose the position to place it in and chose the next letter. (If a contestant won a letter they didn't need, they could reject it and still make the next selection.)

The first contestant to form a word that fits the presented category wins the game and plays the bonus game.

In the bonus game, the contestant faces 18 numbered tiles. S/he selects a number between 1 and 6, and the hidden dollar amount (between $100 and $200) would be the base figure. The contestant then picks a number between 7 and 18. Hidden behind each space was a letter. Give a word with the chosen letter, win the base amount. The contestant can either quit there or keep picking hidden letters. For each letter picked, the contestant has to give a new word that contains all letters revealed, doubling the money for every acceptable word. A wrong guess or time running out means losing everything. Whatever the result, the contestant goes to a pulpit onstage to watch the next game.

The next game is played with two new contestants who play the same front game, except with a different set of letters and a new category. The winner plays the bonus game, and if they bust, the winner of the previous game became the new champion. If the previous game's winner went bust and the second winner wins money, the second winner became champ. No, wait, there's more...

If both contestants come out of their bonus games with money (or presumably, if both went bust), they play "sudden death." This round was similar to the bonus round, with the contestants alternating between each other picking letters & giving words. The first contestant to get stumped loses, while the opponent wins their combined winnings (i.e., if one contestant got $1,040 and the other got $1,800, the sudden death winner got $2,840) and meets a new opponent.


Well, that opening spiel is almost a lie. Based on my calculations, you could only pull a $100K win if you found top dollar on the board and then gave a word containing eleven letters you had picked (or more letters if it were a lesser amount.)

Bill's worst show. Times were changing at NBC and in game shows in general, and this show was given a stage full of light bulbs to make it look modern, plus a top prize that looked good for show but was deliberately close-to-impossible to win, and a format that even Bill admitted in a later interview "just didn't work." Worse, Bill was in a position of being made to feel that he didn't fit in anymore. Lin Bolen, head of NBC's daytime department, was obsessed with making sure game show emcees were young or at least hip-looking. Since Bill was 54 at this point, he found himself having to settle for the latter. The result is Bill looking comical on this series, with butterfly collars and leisure suits, not to mention shoulder-length hair!  It's not a good look for him. Bill disappeared from NBC for five years after "Winning Streak." Coincidence?

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