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Prom Queen Draws a Crowd

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I must admit I have watched all 31 episodes released so far of Prom Queen, though I live in fear of getting caught with the melodramatic high schoolers on my laptop screen. The 90-second format is thoroughly addicting, and besides, I’m “working.”

Turns out I’m not the only one who keeps tuning in. The series gets about 200,000 views per day, according to figures provided to MediaWeek. Prom Queen totaled 5.2 million views since April 2, with 3.7 million of those on MySpace. The show’s MySpace pages, which are updated with blog posts and videos from the characters, have added 18,000 friends.

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Doug Cheney, a creator, writer, and director of Prom Queen, told us the creators’ previous series, Sam Has 7 Friends, had gotten something like 2 million views in total over its own 80 episodes run, so it seems the Michael Eisner hype and distribution power is working. Any of the guilty 200,000 viewers per day want to share here why they like it?

22 Responses to “Prom Queen Draws a Crowd”

  1. Thanks, Mendehlson, for your correction. And I appreciate the tip from JaneJoiningIn about Young American Bodies, which is probably pretty good, since the site is blocked by our monopoly ISP here in the United Arab Emirates!

    I do agree that it’s strange that there isn’t more serial drama – daily or weekly – already. Although it is only recently that key enablers, H.264, two-pass VBR Flash conversion and P2P delivery options have been widely available.

    Having made my first experiments in this arena in 1999-2000 I’m thinking very seriously about the way ahead and, like others, often getting it wrong! But threads like this at NewTeeVee are a big help.

  2. mendehlson

    Look, I agree that it could be a lot better/more interesting to adults. And yes, it’s just a soap. But don’t you find it staggering that there aren’t more of these? I was a fan of “Sam Has 7 Friends” last year, and expected that with the relative “success” of that series, there would be a FLOOD of new daily episodics in this format- both professional and amatuer. But to date, these guys are STILL the only people doing it? How is that possible? I’m not familiar with “Alamo Heights,” but I’ll check it out. They had 10-minute episodes EVERY DAY?

    I guess it’s beating a dead horse, I know. I just can’t believe there aren’t more DAILY series like this – especially sexier series (I’ll check out “Young American Bodies” too) with content aimed at adults. Surely there are advertisers who want to reach a slightly older audience that would pay for such a thing?

  3. jane_joining_in

    Ooooh, people are defying each other here?

    Over a Soap?

    Soooooooooo serious.

    Come on now Boys, there have been a number of series establishing this format over the last few years. Some good, some not so good. For a 10-minute per episode show, alamoheights sa was pretty good, strangely, the Spanish version was better (they shot both English and Spanish versions with same cast). I’ll bet PromQueen would be far sexier if done in Spanish!

    For the best show running now (and a show that really delivers character and emotion) I’d have to say YOUNG AMERICAN BODIES is far more “filmic” (since that seems to be the newly introduced prerequisite) and WAY sexier, with great characters. But the episodes show up at random times and would NEVER be allowed in the overly prudish MYSPACE.

    Jeez-Louise, it’s only a Soap. It’s not some earth shattering, wonderous event. It’s just a Soap about boring rich kids with pink telephones.

  4. mendehlson

    For the record, the “kids” who created “Prom Queen” ARE the “MasterCard-financed kids who have learned from Godard, Rohmer and the like.” They made last year’s “Sam Has 7 Friends” without any help from Eisner, completely self-financed. In fact, their independent effort is what LED to the chance to make something on a larger scale.

    And I defy you to show me a DAILY internet series with 10-minute episodes you would sit through. Come to think of it, I defy you to show me another DAILY internet series like this at all, at any length. Whether or not you like “Prom Queen” (and sure, there’s plenty not to like), it is revolutionizing the format. Change is a good thing!

  5. I have re-blogged so many entries from NewTeeVee but this is the first time I have submitted a comment. I have just taken the time to see the Week 1 episodes of PromQueen and willprobably (systematically) catch up with the rest until I’m up to date and can then subscribe to the RSS feed.

    The fact that in a more recent post the analysis of the statistics shows that a few single episodes attracted the largest traffic is, I think, significant. Yes, ‘come hither’ episode tagging will invite snacking. But surely it means that the snack-samplers are those who then decide that they will not take the trouble to (systematically) catch up on the series to date. So probably the count of those who have become loyal fans of the series an on-going narrative is even lower than the 30 to 40K suggested.

    But what of it?

    It’s an experiment, even if a more expensive one than most ‘do-it-yourself low-budget fiction’. It pre-supposes a use-of-media pattern which is alien both for fans of established television soap opera and for YouTube addicts. And it lacks the ‘mystery’ which was instrumental in grabbing the audience for LG15.

    Frankly I think this form of production will thrive when it is less main-stream in genre. PQ is not that much of an advance on BH9210 as far as the concept is concerned.

    And the big breakthrough will come not from Eisner-financed disciples of Aaron Spelling but from MasterCard-financed kids who have learned from Godard, Rohmer and the like.

    There are also hints that the supposition that ADD pre-supposes ultra-short content segments is not entirely true. At one of the MipTV conference sessions there was agreement among some very authoritative panelists that better compression codecs and even wider broadband deployment is favouring 5 to 10 minute clips even today.

    I like 10 minutes. Back when I was producing conventional soap opera 10 minutes was ‘Act 1’ of our half-hour show!

    Next year? Look for a PQ with no MouseHouse influence, with 10 minute episodes and creative talent from, maybe, Croatia, Holland, France, South Korea…

  6. ohigotchya

    And it is bringing legitimacy that this market needs to make pimply faced teenagers in high school, who would never even get to be prom king or queen, pick up a camera, get editing software, and film their own series – in front of an audience more tuned and hardwired to embrace the format.

    So it’s legitimacy. And as more rich, wealthy execs head towards this field, so does money, attention, respect, and the eventual implosion of a gargantuan television infrastructure.

    So cheers to webisodes!

  7. janem


    Enjoyable comments.

    Let’s face it kiddos, it’s really about “Eisner” bringing legitimacy over to this format that has everyone chatting.

    The show itself really can’t be considered a “hit,” by even podcast standards. It’s doing OK, but, that’s about it (iTUNES is still a larger aggregator of episodic content).. I haven’t read one decent review of the show. Anyone?

    There are dozens of series that can be found in MYSPACE or linked off of MYSPACE accounts, that’s the whole point of there being zero-dollar access cost to distribution — that’s the game changer — not the cost of production, though that matters too.

    The only really unique variable here is having an old-media figurehead like Eisner in the mix.

    The numbers and buzz around LonelyGirl was far more interesting.

    And, yes, there were shows being released in 2001 that started this entire business (some received over 1 million downloads, even way back then), very soapy format and short form.

    Now, of course, when Eisner shows up as a Chaperone during the Prom episodes, that will be newsworthy too, right? Front page story, no doubt.

  8. ohigotchya

    I LOVE back and forths on newteevee!

    Zane (relative of amazingly talented and jobless Billy?)

    100 million do not watch it regularly, we agree on that. 40k might watch it regularly which is great. If this conversation is about success – it’s called brand recognition. It is the same thing that makes people like Oprah and restaurants like McDonalds famous. Not as many people as they are exposed to consume the product, but you better believe every person in television and food knows about them. That’s worth lots and lots of money. Granted, PQ isnt as monetized as everyone hopes, but who knows? when monetization is figured out, crap like this will be considered forefathers.

    And chances are, if you are a committed MySpace user, you’ve heard of Prom Queen. And you’ve heard of Michael Eisner. It’s an opportunity for exposure that, hopefully, can be monetized. It’s what people do with this exposure that makes or breaks it. Can the show be MORE of a success than what it is? That can also be a content question. But it’s a trailblazer. In that, success is there.

    So back to the two main points that you started with:
    Is it first of its kind? We can nitpick as much as we want, but I say it is first of it’s kind based on the opportunity for exposure to millions. Eisner has once again made a brand name out of himself in a whole new realm. That’s worth a lot of money to many people.

    Is it the future of television?

    You make my point well. You say “”there will be 72 minute shows, 1.5 minute shows, 7 minute shows”

    I’m not an English major, I mean, I’m just a “relative of a Prom Queen”, but “will be” denotes the future, and I believe 1.5 minute shows was followed right after that.

    So yes, minisodes are the future of television. Or, to prevent myself from being misunderstood by certain people, they represent one form of future viewing for audiences.

    let’s email each other. People are going to think we’re argumentative. that would just be silly.

  9. Ohigotchya (a relative of PQ?):

    You make my point well. The discussion here seems to revolve around the term “success” based on the story headline that sets up that discussion.

    So, a loyal audience of 40,000 repeat viewers who have seen over 2/3 of all episodes is the current Uniques the metrics indicate. Maybe not even that high?

    No one cares about a “potential” 100-million, that’s just bogus math. Every television show has a “potential” of same, we don’t look at those “potentials” to measure success.

    Let’s face it, the only “noise” PQ is making is within a small community. This is not the World. PQ is not in my face except for some research; No one I know (outside of media circles has even heard of it) the vast majority of the planet have zero awareness of it — but, they do have awareness of thousands of other media properties. This is a very small pebble tossed into turbulent waters.

    People will watch content in multiple spaces and on multiple screens. They will still buy DVDs (because content will be held back for release on DVD). There will still be 1-hour shows, but, there will be 72 minute shows, and 1.5 minute shows and 7 minute shows. It will be diverse and eclectic. It will be covered in product placement and advertising. And, like TV, at some point we may find the amusement factor wholly unsatisfying.

  10. ohigotchya

    Sorry Zane, let me be specifically obvious for you:

    First of its kind:
    having over 100 million people in an online community poised to see your work. In 2001, with how few homes had broadband, you’d be lucky to get thousands.

    Then: it didnt make noise
    Now: It’s in your face at unprecedented levels

    And it is the future. Cable, as an supplementary alternative to broadcast television, was the future 30 years ago. “minisodes” or whatever the heck you call it are a supplementary alternative to watching episodes on a flat box in your living room. You better believe this is the future of television.

  11. Um, PromQueen is NOT the “first of it’s kind of episodic content. It’s just the most pre-hyped series, with biggest “old media” guy attached to it (which is why everyone is fawning over it).

    There have been episodic/soap internet series for the past 4-years — you can even go back to 2001 and see this format in early incubation stages (history matters!) — some doing similar numbers (though, not hitting 1MM on a rouge episode). There was even the English/Spanish soap late-last year, Alamo??? and the current YOUNG AMERICAN BODIES (way cooler series).

    Deciding that the “future of television” is going to be any single format is naive. Sorry, but, it is. There will be a range of options, that’s the beauty of the world we live in.

  12. ohigotchya

    Like it or not, this is the future of television. As more old people die, and more younger people grow up not in front of television sets, we’ll see a more full slate of stuff like this:

    Prom King
    Prom Jester
    Prom Queen who is really a King But Nobody Knows

    And to comment on a previous comment, 30k-40k an episode is fantastic. Considering this is the first of it’s kind show. Granted, it’s not making “Lost” type money, but how much money is this costing them anyway? I’d pay any price to be the first of this kind of episodic content.

  13. Yes, big-ups to Big Fantastic. They are producing very cool content. Just so happy that good things are happening to a good group of people. I have to admit that I’m hooked on the show myself. :)

  14. tim l.


    I swear, I only watch it for business reasons, trying to figure out what story formats are going to succeed in this space. I close my eyes when the girls are in the dressing room.

    The Teacher/Mom/x-Prom Queen character has great promise, they could spin off a series around her that would be a lot more fun…


  15. Liz Gannes

    tim l., valid comments — I’m guessing that the depth of your knowledge means you’re guilty of regular viewership despite the lack of humor?

  16. tim l.

    Some interesting comments are circulating on this story today. Someone broke down the numbers to show that 3 of the 30 episodes equal nearly 1/3 of all views.

    1 episode has at least 1/5 of all views. So, the illusion of a successful 200K views/episode needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

    The assessment is that the success of those handful of episodes is tied to a combination of hinted sex or T&A factor in the episode’s title. So, the “real” viewership per episode, on a median average, is more like 30K-40K views/episode. That’s not very good. Especially, when Eisner/Veoh are pushing from his self-owned platform too.

    Best suggestion in a comment (I can’t take credit for this) was to entitle an episode: “Danica (in knickers) kisses Lauren,” then they could double (triple?) their viewership in a day.

    But, the problem with the show (other than the 1-act format) is that they are humorless. Just a bit of humor would double their audience and expand it beyond those waiting for a glimpse of a bra strap or reference to Game Day BJs.

    The rich , white, teen (played by 20’s), unrelenting angst-thing is dull as toast. Not very satisfying. Looks pretty bad (unless you watch their BRIGHTCOVE channel). But, it’s early-days and bless them for giving it a shot.

    Now, when is the Danica Kissing Lauren episode?