Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (sometimes informally known as Millionaire, and abbreviated WWTBAM) is an international television game show franchise of British origin, created in 1998 by David Briggs, Mike Whitehill, and Steven Knight. In its format, currently owned and licensed by Sony Pictures Television, large cash prizes are offered for correctly answering a series of multiple-choice questions of increasing (or, in some cases, random) difficulty. The maximum cash prize (in the original British version) was one million pounds. Most international versions offer a top prize of one million units of the local currency; the actual value of the prize obviously varies widely, depending on the value of the currency. The original British version of the show debuted on September 4, 1998, and aired on ITV with Chris Tarrant as its host. The show's format is a twist on the game show genreâonly one contestant plays at a time (similar to some radio quizzes), and the emphasis is on suspense rather than speed. In most versions there are no time limits to answer the questions, and contestants are given the question before they must decide whether to attempt an answer. In 2000, a board game based on Millionaire was released by Pressman Toy Corporation. In March 2006, original producer Celador announced that it was seeking to sell the worldwide rights to the show, together with the rest of its British program library, as the first phase of a sell-off of the company's format and production divisions. Millionaire and all of Celador's other programs were ultimately acquired by Dutch company 2waytraffic. Two years later, Sony Pictures Entertainment purchased 2waytraffic for 137.5 million. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? is the most internationally popular television franchise of all time, having aired in more than 100 countries worldwide.
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