Is Harper’s Globe Hitched to a Loser?

With the news this week that CBS would be banishing its new series Harper’s Island to Saturday night after sliding ratings, we checked in with Greg Goodfried, EQAL co-founder, president and COO, to ask about the future of companion web series Harper’s Globe.

Goodfried pushed the CBS rationale for the night switch: that Harper’s Island was seeing such high rates of DVR and online viewing, it’s not important which day it actually airs. Some 1.64 million of the premiere episode’s 11.29 million viewers came from DVR playback within the seven days following its airing on television, according to Nielsen. And CBS said the show received unprecedented numbers of video streams, making it the fastest-growing series in CBS.com’s history. But let’s be honest: The schedule change has to signal a lack of confidence from the network and the distinct possibility that the show will not be renewed.

Goodfried said he felt confident from discussions with CBS that the series would at least be able to complete its 13-episode arc. He said it would be up to CBS whether the web show might live on if the TV show is taken off air.

Aided by marketing from CBS as well as a new all-inclusive EQAL-developed show platform, Harper’s Globe has seen a higher level of engagement than any previous EQAL show including lonelygirl15, said Goodfried. The site for Harper’s Globe — which includes daily updates, weekly episodes, full episodes of Harper’s Island, and social-networking and photo-sharing tools for fans tracking the mysteries of both shows — has had 100,000 unique visitors and 1 million page views in the last four weeks, said Goodfried. The show’s videos are powered by YouTube, so we checked its numbers there. They show the familiar trend of a huge dropoff after the first episode. Recent episodes have on the order of 40,000 views each.

What stands out about the Harper’s Globe is the way it incorporates its audience. The show feed includes user videos, calls to action, and comments. When Harper’s Globe‘s main character, Robin, asked fans to call in to help her get the attention of the town sheriff (a character on both the web and TV shows), “thousands and thousands” of people left messages. “This is orders of magnitude higher than other things we’ve done,” Goodfried said.

But as a watcher of both shows so far, I have to say that it’s not exactly clear how they help each other. Sure, they’re both set in the same place, and they both concern mysterious and scary events, but in tone and pace they’re quite different. Harper’s Island episodes are jam-packed with violence, soapy drama, and anticipation — whereas Harper’s Globe has more character development, less action, and seems plodding by contrast. “I think there’s just a different pacing on an online show than a TV show,” Goodfried said. Who knew? The web is a place for nuanced storytelling.

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