NBC's 'Million Second Quiz' Show: Made For 2013, But Suggests Real-Time Isn't Ready For Prime Time

"The Million Second Quiz," NBC's new-age game show, is a little less than one million seconds away from its premier, and the show's accompanying play-along app has people already vying for the Money Chair. Today's TV Board wrote that it is "clearly one of the most ambitious TV programs ever to make it to network prime time TV." The show's Executive Producer, David Hurwitz, agrees. He told RTM Daily that he believes the show is "arguably one of the biggest shows to be attempted in a very long time. And we simultaneously launched a game app."

Which is why I'm a little disappointed real-time advertising technologies aren't being put to better use here.

The title of the game show sums it up perfectly -- it's a one million second quiz (or a little over 11 straight days) with over $10 million of prize money on the line. One person sits on the Money Chair, which is an actual chair in New York, and wins $10 a second while on the chair. Everyone else is trying to dethrone the person on the Money Chair, including people playing from the app. In fact, in order to qualify to have a chance to sit on the Money Chair, you have to be playing on the app (or on the Web). It's the ultimate second-screen experience.

The show combines everything you would expect a 2013 game show to combine: mobile, social, TV, real-time competition, digital play along options, and a non-stop game. "We are dealing with a society where everything is happening in real-time," Hurwitz said. "You laugh at your friend that says, 'Hey...don't tell me the score of the game.' Everything is happening in real-time."

I watched the trailer for the show on YouTube, and as much as I try to avoid YouTube comments, I couldn't help myself in this case. The first YouTube user, 2hallmanwilliam, pointed out: "After about 300,000 seconds you'd die of thirst. If not by then, 700,000 with hunger, and 900,000 with sleep."

Okay, so maybe 2hallmanwilliam from YouTube isn't the most reliable source when it comes to facts (you can go 900,000 seconds without sleep? That's almost 11 days! I'm not buying it…), but whether or not those figures are accurate is irrelevant. The point raised is a valid one. The tantalizing possibility of winning over $1 million in a little over a day by simply sitting on the Iron, Money Chair, and answering questions faster than the person opposite you? Not going to happen unless the Money Chair is equipped with a toilet.

NBC obviously expects people to be playing the game around the clock, and I'm not doubting it. But while the show proves that consumers (and NBC's pockets) are ready for a real-time show, it also points out that real-time advertising isn't ready for prime time TV yet. Figures from Kantar Media showed that TV media spend went up 0.3% from Q1 2012 to Q1 2013, so it's not like TV broadcasters are itching for something new. Traditional prime time TV advertising remains king for now.

But we already knew that. What surprised me was when Hurwitz said that the app has a sole sponsor -- Eveready. It's a fitting sponsor, for sure, but as someone who writes about real-time media and marketing, I was a bit disappointed to know that there wasn't even real-time advertising possibilities in an app that is going to be in use for 11 straight days by all different types of people answering all different types of questions. Doesn't that sound like the ultimate hotbed for real-time targeting?

1 comment about "NBC's 'Million Second Quiz' Show: Made For 2013, But Suggests Real-Time Isn't Ready For Prime Time".
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  1. Pete Austin from Fresh Relevance, August 30, 2013 at 5:12 a.m.

    Why limit this to broadcast TV networks? Real-time has dominated prime-time since Facebook, or perhaps World of Warcraft.

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