February 28, 2008 Jill

quarterlife’s debut on NBC didn’t pull in big numbers.  In fact it came last in its timeslot with a mere 3.86 million viewers.  Now comes word that it will be moved from the network to Bravo for the duration of its run.  No air dates as yet.

But Marshall Herskowitz had this to say to new teevee on the subject of the quarterlife debut:

I watched it last night, and when you saw it on TV it didn’t look like TV, and when you saw it on the Internet it didn’t look like the Internet.

Comments (5)

  1. Ya know, for smart guys (I mean they have had several tv shows on the air)Zwick & Herskovitz can be pretty stupid.

    They spent too much money making the show, to the point where they NEEDED it to be a broadcast item, and then they put it on NBC.

    Call me crazy, but they should have put it on MTV. Isn’t that the cable network that gave life and credibility to their previous show (which had been canceled on the network), MY SO-CALLED LIFE?

    I think MTV would have been a better marketing partner as well. We would have seen it online, seen the actors on TRL, and seen ads for all the clothes and accessories seen in the show. The Music would have been cross-marketed and we probably wouldn’t be having this “Quarterlife is dead” conversation right now.

  2. And it would be great if, as writers, we could just choose what network our shows would air on, but generally that’s not the case. Was MTV ever even interested?

  3. Josh –

    Z&H are also PRODUCERS – not just writers. Part of the job of a producer is to get people interested in buying your product.

    The fact that Sumner Redstone has been SCREAMING to grab more of the internet after losing MySpace to Rupert Murdoch would have been a major factor in at least approaching Viacom.

    Redstone’s also screaming to cut the costs of development – hence Tom Cruise’s departure from Paramount to MGM/UA. So we have a situation with QUARTERLIFE where 4 episodes are ready to air with an already established online component which could be transferred to MTV.com.

    Paramount is also VERY experimental in that they are the first major studio to release a movie online first, prior to its DVD release (JACKASS 2.5). They know the future is in online development.

    In addition to MTV, Viacom also owns part of The CW which caters primarily to THE DEMOGRAPHIC THIS SHOW WISHES TO EMBRACE. They could have cross-promoted this from MTV to CW and back, doing 2nd runs on either network.
    (Granted, NBC is moving the show to BRAVO, but please? Bravo?! And what they are doing is dumping the show, not cross promoting it)

    One of Viacom’s strongest brands is MTV, and this market situation and positioning SHOULD have given Z&H enough clout to get the show on various Viacom platforms – MTV, the CW and others – which would have been a much better situation than what they received from NBC (who premiered the show on 10pm Tuesdays to that timeslot’s lowest ratings in 17 years).

    Perhaps it was timing, or other significant factors we’re not aware of, but on Monday morning the NBC deal looks like a “bad fit” that was taken because Z&H were desperate for cashflow. The fact is that QUARTERLIFE didn’t call the right play and they lost the game (on several levels):

    – their show was too expensive so they HAD to make a broadcast deal.
    – they didn’t listen to their audience or try and cater to or sell to them via Facebook, etc…
    – they negotiated a deal with a network that was bad for their show; their brand.

    I’m willing to listen to someone who knows the situation first hand, but from here you can see the missteps…

  4. admin

    Really informative comments, Bill. I didn’t notice much in the way of promo for quarterlife on air or for that matter on the web. There seemed to be the TV producers move to the web and web series moves to TV stories, but little else. Was there much promo about the series as a story?

  5. Good observation, Jill and now that you mention it – no. I don’t recall any stories/promos about the characters – just the fact that the guys who gave us MY SO-CALLED LIFE have taken their web series to TV.

    We did have shots of the cast in the promos, but we never got to “know” them so we would want to invite them into our homes.

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