Media Money with Julia Boorstin

"Quarterlife": Can It GET A Life On Television?

On Wednesday I reported about the network launch of "Quarterlife," the first show produced for the Internet to air on TV. The ratings were a HUGE disappointment, it was a distant third in the 10 pm hour, just 3.86 million viewers, and just a 1.3 rating in the crucial 18-49 year old group.

If those numbers don't mean anything to you, here's some context. For that age group, in that time slot, that's the lowest rating NBC has gotten since Nielsen began measuring TV viewing by age in 1987.

NBC was going to move the show to Sundays starting March 2, but now it's reportedly heading to cable station, Bravo. Co-creator, Marshall Herskovitz, who's responsible for the hits "My So-Called Life," and "Thirtysomething," shot back a response to the dismal ratings with a statement that basically says he never thought "Quarterlife" was meant for a Network in the first place. He says "I've always had concerns about whether "Quarterlife" was the kind of show that could pull in the big numbers necessary to succeed on a major broadcast network."

Quarterlife's Debut

No kidding! He also points out: "It is important to remember that "Quarterlife" has already proved itself as a successful online series and social network with millions of enthusiastic fans."

So what's the moral here? Youngsters, that oh-so-coveted target demographic, who watch new content online won't go watch it again on TV, why would they? And it seems a web show's approach won't just work on TV. Viewers expect a certain look, a certain speed and polish from network TV shows.

I don't know if this will work on Bravo. I think the networks will continue to look online for new content ideas, but I think instead of putting them directly on TV, they'll be more interested in buying an idea and re-imagining it for the tube.

Note: NBC is owned by GE , which is the parent company for CNBC.

Questions?  Comments?