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Prom Queen Finale: Suspense, Another Season, and a Few Pineapples

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The last episode of the web series Prom Queen airs today, so you have till about 4 p.m. PDT if you want to pack in the archives before spoilers start littering the internet (Shut up already about the Sopranos finale, people! I might hear you!).

Vuguru, the company managing Prom Queen, told us today it considers the series successful and is picking it for another season. It has notched nearly 15 million total views, according to Vuguru. The show will resume airing online soon, following the same characters in the summer after their senior year of high school. Jane Hu of the Tornante Company promises me that’s not just a loophole to avoid all the cliffhangers expected to be resolved in today’s episode (which officially airs Wednesday, but diehards know they can find it almost a full day before on MySpace).

The addictive high school drama, which has been closely watched in part because of its ties to Michael Eisner, had previously said it was seeing about 200,000 views per day across the ten or so sites it is uploaded to.

As of last week, the series has received over 14,000 comments and over 21,000 forum postings, said Hu. The MySpace forums for the site are “on fire,” as creator Doug Cheney put it.

“When somebody has taken a still and and drawn a circle around a clue, it’s so satisfying,” he said, “because we think about that stuff and we talk about that stuff, but we don’t know if people will notice.” He pointed me to a special forum where a group of hardcore fans had split off, fed up with newbies asking stupid questions.

Reading up on the forums over the weekend, I got the other side of things — the fans watching the creators and the universe thev’ve maintained over the last three months, complete with frequently updated MySpace profiles for their characters. Determined to see if the show was really as interactive as it claimed to be, posters dared the creators to feature a pineapple in one of the episodes. Why a pineapple? I’m not quite sure; I haven’t yet found the original post — but it’s something just random enough so if it were included you’d know it was on purpose.

And included it was, first in a vlog by a minor character, then a vlog by one of the stars, and then in one of the final episodes. The posters, as you can imagine, were ecstatic.

“Imagine this being an hour long program but stopping every 90 seconds and asking the audience what they think,” said Cheney. It’s like a focus group on steroids. “This isn’t TV and it’s not features, it’s something else.”

The season will live on, in various forms, the first of which is a downloadable compilation of the season to be sold through Amazon Unbox, said Hu.

Prom Queen has been a great experiment — with far more resources than just about any web show — and we’ll be paying close attention to additional details about its audience, revenue, and distribution.

Update: The Washington Post also has a story on the series today. Eisner discloses Prom Queen has made back the $100,000 to $150,000 spent by Vuguru.

15 Responses to “Prom Queen Finale: Suspense, Another Season, and a Few Pineapples”

  1. holsteins

    Take those numbers to the next step:

    7,039,000 views to earn $150,000 would require a net-to-producer $21.30 CPM (or, apx. $40 gross CPM). Not easy to achieve, or to sell to advertisers, even if they are doing Flat sponsorship deals and looking at the value. I know that the early podcast ad rates were all predicted to be in that area, but, it just isn’t realistic.
    Total Season Running Time is about 120-minutes @ $150,000 Budget = $1,250 per minute completed, which sounds about right for internet television budgets at this time, but, which won’t allow for anyone but recent college grads and non-union talent to work here.

    End of the day, getting picked up for a second season is all that matters and what determines success. I hope their next season does 3x or 5x the traffic, that’s what we all need to see in order to convince advertisers that this is a real business for them to support.

  2. Will be interesting to see what metrics VUGURU provide for all platforms?

    As of today, for MYSPACE, the 80-Episodes (not including weekly compilations) add up to:

    7,039,000 total views (Do they go by loads, partial or complete views?) Would be interesting for all of us to compare how many completed streams v. partial.

    That number averages apx. 88,000 per Episode, which is less than 1/2 of what’s represented in the press? Is VEOH getting same traffic as MYSPACE all of a sudden?

    Noting that 6 episodes equaled or exceeded 200,000 each, all before Episode 21. The average of Episodes 22-80 is closer to 72,000 views, or apx. 1/3 of what’s being represented as an average viewing stat. But, numbers are there to be tinkered with.

    If you graph the MYSPACE views, it’s difficult to make sense of the viewership and stickiness; no curves or linear pattern appear; other than a real lull between Episodes 22-68, which is over half of the episodes.

    We’re trying to learn from this model, in order to paint an attractive picture to give to advertisers for migrating them into the sponsorship space around original content, but, there’s not much to draw upon from this one example.

    Would be great if NEWTEEVEE could get some numbers from IN THE MOTHERHOOD to see how it’s doing? Where it gets the mainstream push from MSN.