×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

NBC’s Digital Efforts with ‘Million Second Quiz’ Stumble Out the Gate

A lethal combination of app crashes and quiet Twitter presence left 'MSQ' flaccid in the digital arena

There were a whole lot of error messages popping up on cell phone screens across America last night, as NBC’s ambitious gameshow “The Million Second Quiz” debuted on the net’s primetime lineup.

So many messages, in fact, that if you search for “MSQ” on Twitter — even this morning — the third most popular search is “msq server error.”

These were not the sort of tweets NBC was hoping for.

Here’s what happened: NBC planned for “MSQ” to be the ultimate second screen experience, releasing a “Million Second Quiz” mobile game app a month ago for users to play. This app was to provide a truly active and immersive gameplay experience for auds, since winning on the app could lead to winning a spot on the actual “MSQ” show, lensed in New York City.

But when the show went live last night at 8 p.m. from Gotham, app users flooded the digital game’s servers, and in effect crashed the app at the start of the “MSQ” broadcast. No matter how many times you reloaded, upgraded, or logged back into the app, a server error message would greet you via iPhone or Android screen. Those who were able to log into the app were plagued by slow gameplay, with questions not running in sync with the live competition.

So much for that second screen experience.

Where one facet of “MSQ’s” digital efforts was too prolific, another wasn’t nearly prolific enough. The show had difficulty breaking into Twitter’s trending topics, in spite of continual, onscreen reminders to use the “#msq” hashtag throughout the broadcast. Instead, topics regarding football, relationship puns and Miley Cyrus thrived on Twitter’s United States trend list for the majority of Monday night, leaving “MSQ” largely silent in terms of its social media footprint.

“MSQ” didn’t make a huge dent in primetime ratings either, drawing 6.5 million viewers overall, or roughly half what NBC’s unscripted golden child “The Voice” pulled throughout its most recent run.

Of course, this was just the first night of the live strip’s roughly 11-night run on the Peacock. And the “event”-type show was up against the stiff competition of today’s purest form of event programming: NFL football, which aired live during not only the east coast broadcast of “MSQ,” but during the gameshow’s west coast broadcast as well.

But, the “MSQ” digital blunders bring to mind some interesting comparisons when it comes to how nets can leverage digital platforms and create “event”-like programming for linear TV broadcasts.

Comedy Central’s roast of James Franco, which bowed over Labor Day Weekend, drew just 3 million viewers, yet was able to launch 13 roast-related topics, according to Trendrr. For one, the 10 p.m. timeslot of the Franco roast left it competing with fewer noisy programs (like NFL football) on the social media landscape, thereby clearing the field for it to become one of the most social TV shows of the weekend.

More importantly, though, the Franco roast provoked social media mentions because the material of the Comedy Central special flat out provoked discussion. The jokes were outrageous, and Twitter users chimed in with their thoughts and reactions to the telecast throughout the night.

“MSQ’s” lukewarm, family-friendly contestant introductions followed by rapid-fire pop culture trivia left little wiggle room for Twitter users to react, and most of the #msq tweets that weren’t whining about server errors simply read “I got that one right!” or “I should be on this show!,” which does little to propel a TV program high into the social media rankings.

Perhaps the first lesson from night one of “MSQ” is that a prepared hashtag and decent audience size does not a social media footprint make. A telecast with half the viewership — like #FrancoRoast — can still drive a remarkable number of social media mentions, which is another reminder that audience depth can often operate independently of audience breadth.

The real challenge for NBC when it comes to the forthcoming live episodes of “MSQ” — including the one set to air tonight at 8 p.m. — is not only how to fix those app servers, but also how to provoke organic discussion of the gameshow online. Does the show need a dash of edge? Does the audience need more investment in the key contestants, who are routinely rotated out of the show?

The program still has several nights to work out its kinks, but as host Ryan Seacrest continues to remind viewers at home, time on “The Million Second Quiz” is running out.

More TV

  • MAKING IT -- Season: 1 --

    TV News Roundup: NBC Announces 'Making It' Season 2 Premiere Date

    In today’s TV news roundup, NBC announced the “Making It” Season 2 premiere date and HBO Max greenlit a new docuseries from Brad Goreski and Gary Janetti. DATES Hosts Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman will return with the second season of “Making It” on NBC Dec. 2. After the show’s holiday season premiere, the show [...]

  • Luis Fonsi Erika Ender Latin Grammys

    The Second Latin Explosion: How 'Despacito' Ushered in a New Generation of Stars

    Music is an ever-evolving art, and for the Latin Recording Academy, that’s meant riding multiple waves of attention. The most recent arrived with the stratospheric success of “Despacito,” which kicked off a second Latin Explosion with full force in 2017. The Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee hit, later featuring verses by Justin Bieber, made Latin [...]

  • TV Review: 'Catherine the Great' Starring

    TV Review: 'Catherine the Great' Starring Helen Mirren

    For some, “Dame Helen Mirren playing the Catherine the Great” is all the convincing they’ll need to watch this new biographical limited series, which is perfectly understandable. The casting of Mirren in the role, which follows the Russian empress in the embattled latter years of her life, is a smart choice that proves its worth [...]

  • Ricky Martin Celia Cruz Gloria Estefan

    From Idea to Legacy: Latin Grammy Awards Mark 20 Years of Global Recognition

    The idea of creating a separate organization to honor the diversity of Latin music was a discussion that took place for years before it actually happened, but an event driven by one of pop music’s most important crossover artists solidified it. During the 41st Grammy Awards ceremony, a young Ricky Martin was scheduled to perform [...]

  • Science Fair

    Disney Plus Fleshes Out Nonfiction Slate, Including 'Howard,' 'Science Fair,' Mickey Mouse Docu

    Disney Plus further fleshed out its nonfiction content slate at an International Documentary Association showcase event Friday, as the streamer, preparing for its Nov. 12 launch, continues to flesh out its programming strategy. Among the announcements: The streamer has acquired the global distribution rights to “Howard,” the Don Hahn-directed documentary about “Aladdin” and “Beauty and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content