NBC is biggest loser on 'The Million Second Quiz'

The massive promotional efforts can't overcome the basic problem: Viewers found the show confusing and stopped tuning in.

By Jonathan Berr Sep 17, 2013 1:51PM
Million Second Quiz set in New York City on September 7, 2013 (The Million Second Quiz via YouTube)"The Million Second Quiz" hasn't exactly captured the imagination of the American public, and that's a problem for Comcast's (CMCSA) struggling NBC TV network.

As The New York Times noted, total viewership fell to 3 million on Saturday, down from the 6.5 million who watched its debut Monday. This is a huge disappointment, considering the months-long promotional push NBCUniversal has given the show throughout its cable channels and local TV stations.

In theory, "The Million Second Quiz" was supposed to be a "symphony" where the media empire's many parts would work harmoniously with one another to get people to watch. Unfortunately, NBC just couldn't pull it off.

Critics complained that the rules of the Ryan Seacrest-hosted show were confusing for viewers. That's a fair point. I watched two episodes and still don't understand the rules.

Glitches with the game's online app, which seem to have been largely fixed by now, didn't help matters. Neither did the strange story of "Jeopardy" champ Ken Jennings being invited and then disinvited to participate in the show. 
Philadelphia-based Comcast has a market cap topping $115 billion, so it can easily absorb the
whatever financial hit it will take from "The Million Second Quiz," which The Times notes employs more than 500 people. The show did attract a following online, so it wasn't a complete bust.

About 1.3 million people have installed the show's app and played a total of 23 million rounds, the paper says.

And NBC still has other reasons for hope. The advance buzz for "The Michael J. Fox Show," a sitcom loosely based on his life -- including his battle with Parkinson's disease -- has been positive.
The lesson of "The Million Second Quiz" is as old as TV. Even in today's media-saturated age, if people don't like a show, all the promotion in the world isn't going to get them to tune in.

Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.

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Sep 17, 2013 4:54PM

First of all, it's not really THAT original. To me if feels like a rip off of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Secondly, a lot of people, including myself aren't really huge fans of Ryan Seacrest. Typically if his name is involved, I tune out. I think the problem NBC has is they try to recycle other people's ideas (The Voice, American Ninja Warrior) and put a twist on them to make them their own, hoping it will be a hit, but it ends up to being a miss.


Sep 17, 2013 5:48PM
I agree with Alysocool.  If Ryan Seacrist's name is on it, I won't watch.  I will never forgive him for producing the shows involving the Kardashian-Jenner clan.  He's smug and irritating.
Sep 17, 2013 5:23PM
I refused to watch anything with Ryan Seacrest. I know it will insult my intelligence. 
Sep 17, 2013 8:48PM
It's probably a good show but I think most Americans are tired of Ryan Seacrest. 
Sep 17, 2013 7:19PM

Game shows in today's environment don't draw the audiences like they did 20 years ago.  Add Ryan Seacrest to the mix & you pretty much have a recipe for disaster.

Sep 17, 2013 9:28PM
I think people are just sick and tired of that idiot seacrest, God that moron is soooooooooooooo annoying!!! I mean seriously already, who does he think he's kidding, if he was half a man he'd come outta the closet and stop yankin' those stupid chicks chains around! nuff said...
Sep 17, 2013 4:21PM

Leave it to NBC to come up with another stupid idea, the commercials were annoying even when muted for this lame show.

Sep 17, 2013 5:33PM
Lame, just lame.  And lame is not what the American public craves. They want the Gong Show or the $.99 Beauty Pagent.  Chuck Barris, come back to us, Chuck.  
Sep 17, 2013 10:04PM
To everyone that says the rules are difficult to follow...they aren't...the game just sucks and is boring to watch.
Sep 17, 2013 4:00PM

Too many Commercials and other breaks, some contestants not very bright...

And the jumping from contestants, is another distraction and problem...

Too much fluff and bullsh!t.....But you will probably do good on-line and a 3" screen...


Kardassi who ??

Sep 18, 2013 9:01AM
A game show should be fun, not complicated.  I also don't like the fact that they players sit there all those hours winning and then walk away with NOTHING, not a DIME!  How cheap NBC! If the show fails they haven't lost any money...yet.  Does Ryan Seacrest need more money or exposure...Really???  NBC seems to be a knock off network that thinks nobody will notice. The best original show on NBC is Parenthood.  The show reminds me of old family TV.  I am very annoyed that so many networks keep hiring these millionaire celebrities that have so many other "jobs" and not giving someone else an opportunites (ie. Jennifer Lopez, Ryan Seacreast, Heidi Klum, Howard Stern, etc.)  There are other talented people that could probably do a better job and could use the income.  Seacrest is an example that big names aren't always better!
Sep 18, 2013 8:47AM

I, too, refuse(d) to watch anything with ryan seacrest. he is a douche bag, a tool, and he sucks!!. he is not exciting and loves the kardashians and other total divas, and other trash tv programs too much.

why is he everywhere?!? he needs to stay on "e" and stay away from nbc. go away ryan seacrest--far, far, FAR away!!!

go ahead--scoot now!!

Sep 18, 2013 8:30AM
Did they think that maybe the country is over saturated with Ryan Seacrest?  If the show was good enough, a no-name could have been hired as host.
Sep 17, 2013 4:26PM
I understood the "tiers" of players competing, etc... but I just got miffed that the application kept screwing up when trying to play along with show- plus, after the last few games I played it wasn't adding points correctly.  So- despite being a "line-jumper" qualifier early on- I pretty much lost inerest, as well.
Sep 18, 2013 9:58AM
The problem with this show is, there's too much talk and not enough game action. Plus, the questions aren't that challenging. Also, can anyone tell me why Seacrest has to leave the podium and walk in front of the camera every time there's a commercial break? Is his ego that inflated?
Sep 17, 2013 7:39PM
Yo.  This show rated right up there with the Yugo.  I was so interested in the show I took some time and  applied my Preparation H and thank goodness it (the show) was over when I returned. (and I felt better)
Sep 18, 2013 10:51AM
We stopped watching when we saw that the cheap **** network wasn't giving out a penny to all the contestants. Talk about a worthless show. They even make the people sleep in a crappy module. It could of been an okay show if any money was paid out to the people who spent five days of hell. But than American Idol is a worthless show as well.
Sep 18, 2013 9:32AM
Worst show ever. TOO FAST and confusing
Sep 18, 2013 10:02AM
I still don't understand the fascination with Ryan Seacrest.  Maybe if he would just come out as gay, he would be a little bit more believeable.  He should definitely stick with radio.
Sep 18, 2013 12:08PM
Go away Ryan Seacrist.  NBC knew they were in trouble when he was thoroughly booed in Denver at the opening game of the NFL.    I think his mother is the only one that can stomach him.
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