CONFIRMED: quarterlife Yanked from NBC, Headed to Bravo

19 Comments

quarterlife, following its unimpressive debut on NBC last night and creator Marshall Herskovitz’ comments that the show would work better on cable, will no longer be shown on NBC. The show is headed to Bravo, according to an NBC spokesperson. Bravo is committed to showing all remaining episodes, but has not yet determined air dates.

Herskovitz, who was getting tens of urgent emails from NBC as he chatted with us last night about the show’s low ratings, issued more presentable comments today via PR, but it seems he and NBC agree the show is better suited for cable.

A couple weeks ago, Herskovitz told us,

If under some very painful circumstance we don’t get enough viewers on NBC we could go on cable — A&E, Bravo. Within our economic model we’re more versatile in that way.

Warning: This doesn’t necessarily mean Internet TV and network TV are incompatible; remember the show was much different and had a much bigger budget than anything else online.

19 Comments

ronne

Quarterlife is not for big screen TV. It is too real and truthful for big screen TV. I agree with many of the people here who commented about giving people time to get attached to the show first, yanking it off after the first episode is not only unwise but is also unfair to the makers, cast and followers of the show. This was a great show and hopefully, this won’t be the last I will hear of it.

Wei-Der

Apparently I was one of the few people that did watch the premiere. Although I enjoyed it, I can see why placing it on broadcast was not the right move.

First off, I believe “The Biggest Loser” was the lead in for “Quarterlife” which probably isn’t the best demographic/psycho graphic fit. This is inexplicable for a network that used to leverage “Seinfeld” and “Friends” as its tentpoles and lead ins.

Second, much like “My So Called Life”, “Freaks and Geeks”, “Family Guy”, “Quarterlife” has the opportunity to become a cult hit. “Family Guy” was pulled before being a mainstream hit, and “Freaks and Geeks” has gained more popularity on DVD (along with Apatow’s rise). The show already has a following and is halfway to being a cult phenomenon.

Finally, expectations were simply too high for a model that has yet to be proven. If anything, the show should have started on cable and then moved to broadcast, but whether it be due to the writers’ strike, maybe NBC felt its hands were forced.

What I am concerned about is how it will affect the future of webisodes moving to television, from both a business model perspective and story line
engagement.

Liz Gannes

Hi Marshall,

I don’t think I implied your comment was negative. Thanks for stopping by and adding your thoughts.

Thanks,
Liz

Marshall Herskovitz

Hi, Marshall Herskovitz here: I posted this on an earlier article, but it’s more appropriate to this one:
Liz was very nice in person and I was glad to meet her finally. I’m afraid, though, that she might have misunderstood what I was saying. The words she quoted in that earlier post were, “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,” but that was part of a larger discussion, the simplest version being: my show is what it is — it’s not a TV show and it also doesn’t fit with most of the scripted series so far made directly for the Internet. I’m not entirely sure why Liz would construe this as a negative — I certainly don’t. But let’s take it farther: the real point I was making was that several Internet pundits have dismissed the online version of “quarterlife” as essentially a TV show in sheep’s clothing, a failed pilot trussed up and thrown to the Internet where presumably I thought people wouldn’t know any better. Even the eight minute segments added up to hour-long stories — the whole thing was clearly just a cut-up TV show. And I therefore got what I deserved when it went to television: the failed TV pilot failed for real.

Fine, except that what I knew in those first few seconds was actually something very different: I knew that “quarterlife” wasn’t television. Think what you will of my past work, but I’ve been at this a long time and I know the DNA of television, I know how it manifests itself in story, casting, direction, acting, lighting, photography, set design, costume design, editing, etc., etc. And in every one of those areas and more, “quarterlife” is just not a television show. It’s more ragged, more chaotic, more truthful, less sensationalistic, less presentational, a hundred things you might like or dislike, but trust me, I know just what I’d have to do to turn “quarterlife” into a television show — and it ain’t one now. And I knew in those seconds that a network audience wasn’t going to respond to it — not because it’s bad, though many I’m sure will disagree — but because it just isn’t….television.
Of course I hoped things would be different, all along I hoped that a large TV audience would be attracted to this other thing, I believed they’d be attracted to it — but in those first few seconds, thirty years of experience told me otherwise. I suddenly had no doubt about the outcome: we were dead. I even knew what the rating would be and said it out loud. Ask the people in the room.
Why bother to rehash this now? Because “quarterlife” has indeed succeeded on the Internet, by any measure, but especially by the measure Chris Albrecht himself suggested in September: 100K views in the first 24 hours. We are averaging slightly over that across 33 webisodes. And it’s worth rehashing because “quarterlife” would indeed be a success on a cable network, with the 3.1 million viewers we got on Tuesday.
So, yes, it’s been embarrassing to live this experiment in public, and to fail on television so spectacularly — trust me, you don’t want to experience that — but perhaps those who make their spiritual home in the digital world and distrust me or my motives, or my ability to understand people in their twenties, or any other sins I might be guilty of, including lack of talent — might pause for a moment and realize that the only place I’ve failed is on a big television network — and is this the place to judge me for that? Believe me, I feel really bad about it, in spite of Liz’s skepticism about my later statement. I have nothing but gratitude to NBC for giving us a shot. I caused them to lose a lot of money, which I also feel bad about; I let down Ben Silverman, whom I greatly respect and like. I got Jeff Zucker really mad at me. The whole situation sucks, not least because a two-year labor of love has very likely been dealt a mortal blow.
So forgive me if I insist — in the midst of all this blood-letting — on the one thing I know is true: like it or hate it, “quarterlife” really is an Internet show.

Dorothee

Nooo!!! I was really excited about Quarterlife being on broadcast television because my internet connection doesn’t let me see it without skipping and freezing and I don’t have cable! Oh well…

David

Jack,

20K Bittorrent downloads is nothing, not even a rounding error on a Nielsen projection.. You would need 2+ million for anybody to take notice.

Jack

tonns of people are already downloading it on bitTorrent… for new shows that come on TV… its take a while before it picks up on torrents.. but over 20k people have downloaded the show already in HD quality from Mininova alone.. I think thats very impressive for a show that has already been there on YouTube and other sites.. is NBC counting those eyeballs too before yanking it ?

Davis Freeberg

I TiVo’d the show last night, but haven’t actually seen it yet. I’m curious to how the pilot compared against the normal network audience for a pilot? Sometimes it takes a few weeks before audiences get engaged enough to make it a live event.

I’m also curious as to why they couldn’t still show it on NBC, but at a less competitive time spot. To launch against Jericho seemed really dumb, especially after the viral buzz that Jericho’s gotten. Last fall, NBC launched the show Chuck and I wanted to tune in, but had two other shows that conflicted. In the past, I would have just skipped the whole series, but NBC started airing that week’s episode at some weird time on Saturdays and I was able to catch a few of the shows and got hooked. While I may not have found the show interesting enough to bounce my other two shows initially, now I’d pick Chuck over Everybody Hates Chris because I’ve gotten to know the characters.

Instead of trying to jam everything into primetime, why not air Quarterlife repeats at 3am and let DVR audiences at least start to get attached? Worst case scenario, NBC misses out on weak paid programming revenue, but still have a chance to develop some momentum around the show before having to send it to Bravo (shudder).

Comments are closed.