What on Earth Is the 'Million Second Quiz'?

Tonight is the launch of NBC's interactive game show The Million Second Quiz, which, yes, takes places for a continuous million seconds. That sounds challenging and, logistically, a little confusing. We're sure you have questions. We took the time to answer some of them. 

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Tonight is the launch of NBC's new interactive game show The Million Second Quiz, which, as its title suggest, takes places over the course of a continuous million seconds. That sounds challenging and, logistically, a little confusing. We're sure you have questions. We took the time to answer some of them.

So what is The Million Second Quiz

Well, it's a trivia game show.

I presume it will be shown in primetime? 

You bet! Starting tonight it will be broadcast in primetime every night through September 19. The only night it won't be on is Sunday, to make way for football.

Really? It's that simple? Just like Who Wants to Be a Millionaire

Uh. No. The Million Second Quiz is decidedly more ambitious than that. The game takes place continuously across 11 days, 13 hours, 46 minutes and 40 seconds—(1 million seconds, silly)—and involves people competing in trivia games online and in front of cameras.

Simple enough. Just like "The Cedric Challenge" app for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

No, not even that simple. To fully understand the complexities of the three "contests" that make up The Million Second Quiz, let's turn to Hilary Lewis at The Hollywood Reporter:

 In the first round, the person currently sitting in the "money chair," where the person who's played the game the best will try to stay for as long as possible racking up cash, will compete against someone from the audience. Whoever wins that round will then face off against a "line jumper," someone producers will have selected during the previous night's show, who has played the game the best online and was brought to New York to compete in primetime. The third competition is something the show is calling the "winner's defense," in which the second-round champion will face off against the person from Winners' Row who's played the game the best over the previous 24 hours with the winner taking the other person's money and staying in the money chair. The four contestants who play the game the best will also live on the set in what the show has dubbed "Winners' Row."

Sorry, sorry. Money chair? Line jumper? Winners' Row? I thought quiz shows were meant to make the audience feel smarter

Perhaps you'll feel smarter if you know you can play at home in your underwear. Allow this NBC video to explain.

And where is this all happening? 

Partly online and partly in a structure erected in New York City just for the purpose of the game. Entertainment Weekly's Hillary Busis describes it as a "three-story, 18,000-pound bent-steel structure that’s laced with multicolored lights powered by more than 1.6 million watts of electricity." Winners' Row—mentioned above—has facilities for the four highest scorers to eat and sleep.

Can I watch them sleep? 

You sound creepy, but luckily NBC is here to help creeps like you: there will be a live stream of Winner's Row.

That's awfully obliging of them. How much does NBC want me to watch? 

Oh yes, quite badly. Lesley Goldberg at The Hollywood Reporter explains that NBC "has showered an unprecedented amount of promotion" on the show. There have been so many cross-platform tie-ins across NBC's various networks that The Million Second Quiz marketing almost seems like some idea Jack Donaghy dreamed up than an actual television event. (SeinfeldVision, perhaps?) See, for instance, this ad for USA show Royal Pains:

What's in it for NBC? 

Advertising, silly. Andy Fixmer at Bloomberg News details all the sponsors. The set even has a Subway restaurant inside of it. So far, they Fixmer reports that over 300,000 people have downloaded the app and 11 million people have been playing online already.

Good for them, but is there any reason to think I'll want to watch this? 

Well ask yourself: Do you really like game shows? Do you just want to see how weird it is? Are you the type of person who buys into a little hype? Are you the type of person that wants to see things that are hyped devolve into a massive train wreck? Then this might be for you.

Last question: is there a host? 


Who is it? 

We don't want to say.

Oh, just tell us. 

Okay. It's Ryan Seacrest. Sorry.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.