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In shows involving couples, there is a substantial incentive to break up any of the existing relationships.In shows involving singles, there is a mismatch of numbers ensuring constant competition.The format of Barris's first dating show, The Dating Game, which commenced in 1965, put an unmarried man behind a screen to ask questions of three women who are potential mates, or one woman who asked questions of three men.The person behind the screen could hear their answers and voices but not see them during the gameplay, although the audience could see the contestants.
Since then, the dating game show has virtually died off from television syndication, though cable television networks such as VH1 have continued to air dating shows with content similar to that of the syndicated dating shows of the late 1990s and early 2000s and major over-the-air broadcast networks have tried, often with marginal success, to use dating shows that are less risque compared to those shows.
The Newlywed Game, by contrast, another Barris show, had recently married couples competing to answer questions about each other's preferences.
The couple who knew each other the best would win the game; sometimes others got divorced.
The audience sees only the game; an important feature of all dating game shows is that the contestants have little or no previous knowledge of each other, and are exposed to each other only through the game, which may include viewing a photograph or at least knowing the basic criteria for participation (typically participants are not already married).
There have been a number of dating shows aired on television over the years, using a variety of formats and rules.