This post was updated at 12:46 PM PT with comment from 'Quarterlife' co-creator Marshall Herskovitz.
It's undoubtedly a setback for those hoping to see Web video make a clean transition to the living room TV: Quarterlife, the hyped-up Web series from the co-creators of Thirtysomething and My So-Called Life, had a very disappointing network debut on NBC and may be on the chopping block.
The show, which premiered Tuesday night, managed to pull in only a tepid 3.1 million viewers, according to The Hollywood Reporter. While NBC hasn't formally decided to pull the plug, sources have told the entertainment news service that such an announcement is forthcoming.
It could've been a Cinderella story. A TV show, rejected by traditional outlets, finds a new home on the Web. It gains buzz, a major network picks it up, it's a success, and everybody cashes out. Or not.
Quarterlife, a semi-edgy drama, had debuted online at Quarterlife.com and via a syndication deal with MySpace.com. On the Web, it didn't reach "Leave Britney Alone" levels of popularity, but it amassed enough viewers and positive reviews for NBC to decide to add Quarterlife to its prime-time lineup.
But the reason why Quarterlife was likely picked up so quickly--the Writers Guild of America strike that left television networks without new scripted content--no longer exists. Now that the writers are, well, writing again, NBC has a much less compelling reason to keep Quarterlife around.
In a statement Thursday, Quarterlife co-creator Marshall Herskovitz remained optimistic. "I am happy to say that the reports of Quarterlife's demise are exaggerated. We're deeply grateful for NBC's efforts to make Quarterlife a success on network television," he said. "However, I've always had concerns about whether Quarterlife was the kind of show that could pull in the big numbers necessary to succeed on a major broadcast network. It is important to remember that Quarterlife has already proved itself as a successful online series and social network with millions of enthusiastic fans."
It's niche-media, Herskovitz added. "We live in a media world today where many shows are considered successful on cable networks with audiences that are a fraction of those on the Big Four. I'm confident that Quarterlife will find the right home on television as well."