making the old work with the new

NBC’s Million Second Quiz was a flop.

I can hear the pitch meeting now…

It’s a way to combine TV watching and online participation! It’s got an online element! It’s got an app! It’s like Words with Friends! It’s the new #hashtag buzzword synergy blockbuster!! We’ll promote it until people are sick of hearing about it!

And without all the hyperbole, I agree. On paper, it should have worked.

However, I’m a trivia game show buff and I’m fairly well plugged in. I’m smack dab in the target market. But I watched about 15 minutes of it and thought, ‘Meh’.

Why didn’t it connect?

On first glance, I suspect it’s because the nation has achieved Ryan Seacrest over saturation.

But realistically, I think it’s because just like gathering together some eggs, flour and sugar doesn’t make a cake, putting trendy elements together doesn’t make a hit. There has to be something greater there. It has to be something people want to invest in.

I think the over promotion of it hurt as well. The promos felt like a mother standing in JC Penny trying to convince her son that the husky pants were cool.

And a reason that continues to pop up is that media still have no idea how to adapt. Trying to stick real time competition and app play into a TV show is like the newspaper or magazine promoting that you can flip through ‘pages’ on their site or app. It’s the old “try to wedge the old thing we know how to do into that new thing the kids are talking about”.

It’s a good lesson for all media. Stop trying to build new things on old foundations. Take your existing equity to develop a new base and build from there.

Chris Houchens is a marketing raconteur & writer. Connect with him on Twitter or Facebook.

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