NBC Goes Back to Basics with Million Second Quiz


NBC is going retro in its bid to win back audiences and ratings with a live game show, “The Million Second Quiz,” scheduled to debut Sept. 9. But the modern iteration will include digital, dual-screen and real-time trimmings that viewers expect. 

It’s the first game show series to be broadcast live on US television since the 1960s and lays claim to being “…the first fully convergent television experience, where viewers will be able to play along at home in real-time and sync to the live primetime broadcast,” according to a press release

Hosted and co-produced by television mega-personality Ryan Seacrest, contestants will answer trivia questions from inside an enormous hourglass-shaped cage built on top of a former New York car dealership. The show will air over 10 consecutive nights but the game will run 24 hours a day for 12 days (hence the one million seconds) necessitating that contestants live at the game’s studios where they can be viewed 24/7 on NBC’s website. Viewers can play the game on a mobile app and possibly secure a chance to compete on the live show, which culminates in a $2 million prize, combining elements of mobile, social, TV and real-time competition.[more]

NBC has high hopes for the show to attract the 18-49 demographic—a sweet spot for advertisers—and to combat erosion of TV audiences due to DVRs. NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt said at the Television Critics Association, “we need to be in the event business” in order to “fight the DVR. We are looking for more and more of these kinds of events.” 

The show’s Executive Producer, David Hurwitz said the show is “arguably one of the biggest shows to be attempted in a very long time,” according to MediaPost. “We are dealing with a society where everything is happening in real-time. If things play out the way we hope things play out, we could be changing the course of television”

With further integration of social media, audiences are more keyed-in to live events, such as the live high-wire walk across the Grand Canyon performed by Nik Wallenda that aired on Discovery earlier this summer. But there are only so many dare devils, so as with anything, the industry is looking to reimagine the phenomenon created by a more digitally-attuned audience watching live TV, this time with a high-stakes game show.