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Web-to-TV Show ‘Quarterlife’ Bombs in NBC Debut – Or Did It?

Last November we reported that the web-based scripted drama “Quarterlife” was making the unlikely jump to primetime television. Last night, Quarterlife debuted on NBC in the 10pm time slot, and the results were disappointing by television standards. The web-turned-TV show pulled a 1.6 share among 18-34 year olds, and averaged just under 3.9 million viewers for the time slot, good enough for third place. Interestingly, one of the shows it trailed was the CBS drama “Jericho,” which was rescued from cancellation due to a massive grassroots web campaign to save it.

By TV standards, that’s a terrible debut. Especially considering how poorly it faired among the 18-34 year old set — i.e., MySpace’s key demographic. On the other hand — what did they expect?

3.9 million viewers far outstrips the number of viewers the show attracted on MySpace. The top rated episode of Quarterlife on MySpace (episode 24) had 557,000 views over 3 months. That’s an impressive number for a web-based series, but still a far cry from 3.9 million viewers. In fact, the total 4.3 million plays for the entire series on MySpace is only just above the number of viewers that the show pulled on TV (and that’s plays, not unique viewers). The latest episode of the show, uploaded February 8, has just about 45,000 views.

Clearly, NBC was hoping that buzz on the web would translate to buzz on the tube, and along with traditional promotion and critical reviews (which were positive for Quarterlife), the show would do well. But it could be that they over estimated the power of the web buzz. Consider that Quarterlife’s official MySpace page has 14,000 friends, while this clearly unofficial fan-made profile for Grey’s Anatomy, a true TV hit, has over 20,000 friends. While Quarterlife’s debut was a bomb by TV standards, it might not have been so bad by web-to-TV standards.

As Media Life Magazine points out, though, this was an experiment that likely didn’t cost much for NBC. So look for more web-to-TV programming in the future.

What web-based shows do you think could make it on the traditional airwaves? Diggnation? Rocketboom? The ScobleShow? Let us know in the comments below.

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