LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Quarterlife," the first Web-based drama to air on network television, has been canceled by NBC after a dismally rated first episode but will move to sister cable channel Bravo, people close to the show said on Thursday.
The highly touted online series about a group of young artists bombed in its NBC debut on Tuesday night, drawing the network's lowest ratings and smallest audience for that time slot in at least 20 years, according to Nielsen Media Research.
The show ranked a distant third place for the 10 p.m. hour, averaging just 3.1 million viewers and a meager 1.3 rating among advertisers' favorite demographic, adults aged 18 to 49, the precise audience for whom the series was designed.
The program had been scheduled to move to Sundays on NBC starting March 2.
But two sources close to the program, though not authorized to speak publicly about its scheduling, said "quarterlife" has been removed from the NBC lineup.
It will be shifted instead to the Bravo channel, which like the broadcast network is owned by General Electric Co.'s media division, NBC Universal, they said. No new air date for the six-part series has been set, however.
A network spokeswoman confirmed that "quarterlife" would "continue to air ... on an NBC Universal-owned network."
"Quarterlife" originally was created for the social-networking site MySpace.com by Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick, Emmy-winning producers of "thirtysomething" and "My So-Called Life."
Consisting of 36 eight-minute "webisodes," the series began running on MySpaceTV.com and quarterlife.com in November, with two new segments appearing online each week.
NBC made headlines when it announced in the midst of the Hollywood writers strike it was picking up the series as a mid-season replacement show, and heavily promoted the drama in the run-up to its prime-time launch.
At the time, "quarterlife" was touted as a new model for the development of video entertainment, marking the first program to originate independently online before moving to a major broadcast outlet.
In a statement on Thursday, Herskovitz thanked NBC for its "efforts make 'quarterlife' a success on network television."
"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," he 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 (broadcasters). I'm confident that 'quarterlife' will find the right home on television as well."