NBC’s event series The Million Second Quiz kicked off last night. The new competition series offers plenty of ways for viewers to engage outside of actually watching the series, but the format for the show is a little confusing. Despite thisl, the Ryan Seacrest-hosted competition series got off to a decent start, winning the 8 p.m. hour for the network, but with the magnitude of the competition and its complicated rules, we’ll have to give it a few more nights to determine whether or not it will sink or swim.
The Million Second Quiz has a lot going for it in theory. It’s an event series that will run continuously for twelve days and will air for 10 nights on the network. It features a fun trivia component that spans categories like current events, pop culture, geography, fashion and more. People invested in the show can sign up for an app and answer the same questions that contestants are answering in live time. A few of these trivia players will even get invited to join the show and compete for a prize on a stage that is live in New York City. TV’s biggest name in hosting, Ryan Seacrest, is even signed on for the project, and during the first episode, he spouted out contestants' names and even remembered their babies with ease.
Last night, the new competition premiered to 6.5 million total viewers. Those numbers are decent for NBC and are competitive with other competition shows the network has aired during the summer months, including American Ninja Warriors and Stars Earn Stripes. However, as THR first reported, the show’s 1.7 rating in the 18-49 demo matches what Stars and Stripes was doing in its first season, and that series ended up getting cancelled at the network.
If you watched last night’s big premiere episode, you probably already know that part of the problem is that The Million Second Quiz has a lot of different components running at the same time. There’s a line of people waiting in line to try out for the show and there are fans playing at home, hoping a local newscaster will show up and send them to New York. Then, within the live quiz component, there are two people competing onstage, hoping to sit in the winner’s chair long enough to earn more money, as well as four people sitting behind the stage, having already earned money. Other short video segments and twists complicate the plot further.
Overall, there’s a lot of potential in The Million Second Quiz, but since the show lost a significant portion of its audience between the first and second half of the episode, it leads me to believe that all of the random stuff going on made it difficult for some viewers to follow. This may clear up over the next several days, as people get used to the series. Or it may not.
The beauty of a 12-day event series is that it can be tried and if it proves to be a failure, NBC will drop it. As far as event competitions go, this one has the potential to get expensive, but it could also be an easy, fun, short series for the network to air once or twice a year. We'll keep you posted as The Million Second Quiz continues playing out on NBC.
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Jessica Rawden is Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. She’s been kicking out news stories since 2007 and joined the full-time staff in 2014. She oversees news content, hiring and training for the site, and her areas of expertise include theme parks, rom-coms, Hallmark (particularly Christmas movie season), reality TV, celebrity interviews and primetime. She loves a good animated movie. Jessica has a Masters in Library Science degree from Indiana University, and used to be found behind a reference desk most definitely not shushing people. She now uses those skills in researching and tracking down information in very different ways.