quarterlife‘s TV Debut D.O.A.

In a development that could kill the network dreams of other fledgling web series, quarterlife‘s premiere on NBC last night bombed. TV by the Numbers paints the not-so-pretty picture: quarterlife came in last place in its time slot, with a mere 3.86 million viewers. An ABC Primetime news special won the hour with 7.64 million viewers, and even the wait-wasn’t-that-canceled Jericho did way better, attracting 6.9 million people.

Over in the quarterlife forums, the faithful are licking their wounds, but remain confident that once the show is switched to its Sunday night slot, everything will be better. Elsewhere on the boards, quarterlifers have created a special “Welcome to the New group from NBC” thread to greet the influx of new fans — but as of this writing, only two noobs had posted a response (and they had seen the show on MTV).

The disappointing debut combined with the end of the writers’ strike could spell an early demise for the show’s TV aspirations. Maybe quarterlife star Bitsie Tulloch needs to find the time to start interacting with quarterlife fans online after all. The show will need all the help it can get.

UPDATE: Our own Liz Gannes spoke with quarterlife creator Marshall Herskovitz at the Harvard Business School Entertainment and Media Conference today. In a nice moment of candor, even Herskovitz admitted that the show “bombed” last night, and offered up some interesting commentary.

Herskovitz said “We shouldn’t have been on a network to begin with. Our show, probably if it was going to TV should have been on a cable network, and that’s probably where we’re going to end up.”

When asked about critics who said quarterlife was just a failed TV show on the web, and now it’s back on television where it belongs, Herskovitz said “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.”

Liz has promised to post more good bits of info from the show, so check back later for her story.

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