Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Quarterlife: Making Television History

Quarterlife: Never seen it, have no idea what it's about. But, it made history and that's why I'm here. Here's the story of a man named Marshall Herskovitz who, among other things, changed the flow of media content. Instead of the typical "go to the web to supplement TV content," Herskovitz moved his show from the web to television. For once, TV execs knew they were in uncharted waters and gave him much more creative control and freedom. "It was entirely our show," he said. He was able to make this happen partly through mega-expensive ad campaigns and using the work of quarterlife's loyal community.

Some points he made during the QA portion:
  • The progression of mediums is changing. You really have to start on the web. Don't start on TV. It's changing very quickly, but we haven't yet figured out how to get advertisers to spend the kind of money they spend on the web. It's coming soon though!
  • For his next season, he plans to hire writers that visit the site. People are adding content all the time with stories and screenplays
  • Is trying a new release pattern (not twice a week for 8 minutes a pop)
  • Online audience is so fragmented and unpredictable that there are things that would work on the internet that would never work on TV
  • Regardless of future television shows or internet programs, the social networking aspect will stay
From a TV background, it is really interesting to see how the process of television content is changing. He initially created this show to attract a niche audience. It's also important to see his evolution from television to film to the Internet. Now it seems like instead of being a "last resort" for your content when trying to enter the professional film making or television scene. It's really a starting point today.


Kerri Battles said...

I saw a segment on this show on G4's Attack of the Show right before it debuted. Basically, they were saying that you don't necessarily have to go to Hollywood to get discovered these days. The networks are starting to look online for new show ideas and are pulling writers and actors from web shows more and more often. I actually haven't seen the show yet either but I have read that there is fear that it won't translate because of how focused the show itself is on the Internet.

Scott Barrus said...

I also saw the segment of probably my favorite show on TV, Attack of the Show. It is interesting that the background of the show is based around "a community for artists, thinkers, and do-ers." As good ole Wikipedia states, the show is about a group of twenty-something artists, who are coming of age in the digital generation and also acts as a social network service. This is great in that the people who use the site can add content such as stories and screenplays. It adds much fresher ideas then the usual script writers in Hollywood. Starting on the web, in my opinion, is the best way to garner buzz for your product. The TV market is too saturated, while you are able to market to niche audiences on the web.

Kristin said...

I haven't seen Quarterlife on MySpace and I didn't get to see it when it aired on NBC (like most of the population). However I do think that the Internet is a good place to take your product if it doesn't get the attention you wanted in the first place. I agree with Scott when he says going online "is the best way to garner buzz for your product". It helps to build an audience base, which, in turn, will hopefully help gather a larger audience if a network picks up the show. However, shows like Quarterlife have a niche audience, as mentioned. I think it will take a while for shows like this to garner high ratings, which is what networks are after. I don't know if shows like this will be given a fair chance once they are picked up by the network. According to Mashable, a site offering social networking news, Quarterlife attracted only 3.86 million viewers causing NBC to pull the plug. The article goes on to say that the show will move to Bravo.

Jamie Ahrens said...

I heard about the show coming to TV and wondered if that "was the same thing we talked about in class." But I did not get to see it. I also believe that the internet is the best and least expensive medium to "test" products on. If you can direct the right audience to your website you will surely see if your product will thrive or die. They key though is to make sure people know it exists. If not enough people go to the website, the results will be inaccurate. Then I would take the product to TV, to reach that set of viewers. The best idea though would be to start on the internet, move to TV, but keep parts on the internet. Make it interactive to where the viewer get the best experience by going to both places!

AdamCLee said...

I actually watched Quarterlife a few weeks ago and I am nothing short of impressed with the idea of internet shows coming to television. It is surely encouraging to young and struggling artists that there is hope in creating a show cheaply on the internet that could someday be shown on TV. The popularity of a show on the internet would give network big dogs the confidence to bring it to television as there is most likely a loyal fan base for the show and a reason that it is so popular. Hopefully networks do not take the idea to warp speed and start previewing all sorts of internet programs on television; wouldn't surprise me if it happened though.