BIG NEWS and Sneak Peek – Tim Ferriss TV Show Debut 12/4



The debut of my TV show — “Trial by Fire” — will air this Thursday, 12/4, at 11pm ET/PT on The History Channel. It’s been two years in the making.

I’ve been told that the times are 11pm ET, 10pm CST, 9pm MT, and 11pm PST. Double check to be safe on the History Channel schedule.

This could very well be the only time you are able to see this show. It’s a pilot and not guaranteed to become a series, so please tune in and also Tivo!

In this post:

1) The concept
2) Live Q&A following show
– join me after the broadcast to ask your questions and learn about how to pitch a TV show, the “reality” behind reality TV, behind-the-scenes details, omitted scenes, and more. The Q&A won’t make sense unless you’ve seen the broadcast.
3) Immediate competition and prize for rallying the troops (sooner is better)

The Concept

The concept is simple: I have one week to attempt to learn what is usually learned over 5-20 years. I either crash and burn — or survive by the skin of my teeth — in a final test (trial by fire) each time.

If it’s made into a series, which depends entirely on viewership numbers on Thursday night, I’ll deconstruct a new complex skill each week. It will show you exactly how I approach learning, and no fake TV drama will be required to make the stakes real.

This episode was shot in HD in Tokyo and the mountains of Nikko, where I rolled the dice on Japanese horseback archery, or yabusame: full gallop, no hands, no safety gear, with wooden poles lining the track on either side of the horse. Please don’t do this at home. I had access to the best in the world, and you’ll get to see some never-before-seen footage of a rare and brutal samurai sport few non-Japanese have ever attempted. The show preview is here.

Live Q&A After Broadcast Thursday

I’ll be holding a live Q&A on this blog after both broadcasts (11pm ET for ET, CST, MT; 11pm PT for PT). Note down questions during the show on things you’d like to know. No-holds-barred. Just keep an eye on this blog and my twitter page for more details.

Immediate Competition to Rally Troops

This is a one shot, one kill affair. To become a series, this show needs massive viewership on Thursday to prove to History Channel that people want more.

The competition, limited to the next 48 hours, is simple: promote the below links and leave a comment here with 1) what you did to spread the word, and 2) what challenge you think I should tackle next.

Some options: Facebook, e-mail, Twitter, blogs, FriendFeed, etc. Bonus points go to people who act sooner vs. later.

The links:
The preview (first choice):
This post (second choice, if video is removed):

Prize to best promoter: my favorite travel bag in the world, the $500 retail Victorinox Swiss Army 25″ Trek Pack Plus. I used an older version during my 15-country world trip in 2004, and the latest model is even better.

Thanks in advance for your help with spreading the word! More to come soon! Woohoo!

Posted on: December 2, 2008.

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357 comments on “BIG NEWS and Sneak Peek – Tim Ferriss TV Show Debut 12/4

  1. already hit up twitter, facebook, gmail, tumblr, myspace, aim away msg and direct messages to all friends that i know are interested (LOTS!). great feedback so far! I look fwd to enjoying the show Thursday night. go Tim!!

    Next Challenge: male stripper??! i don’t know. i’m just hoping!


  2. Great show idea. I’m excited to see it. I published the link to my 379 twitter followers. That tweet also displays on my blog. When the show gets picked up, I’d like to see you break in to the music business.


  3. Wheee! I’m stoked to see this Tim! I’ve posted to my facebook profile, and favorited the vid to my youtube acct. I’ll also message all the friends who I think would be interested and ask them to comment or host the link. And I’ll start a thread on a filesharing website about it.

    for your next adventure, what about that german fraternity fencing? you know the one they do with live blades and you aren’t allowed to move?


  4. Tim,

    You may want to also think about “hacks” which will help show interest to The History Channel. i.e. actions viewers could take which would show interest in this show being made into a series.

    A few that come to mind:

    – TIVO (since data from Tivo could be reported back)

    – finding friends who are current Nielson families (a bit tricky but not entirely impossible)

    – comments on The History Channel’s official forums about the show, especially after it airs that show people actually viewed the show

    – a bit more complex but perhaps try to show trending interest in topics from the show (i.e. google queries, twitter comments about the term “yabusame” which I’m guessing doesn’t get a lot of current traffic

    (oh and btw – I’d go buy yabusame as a Google Ad-words buy ahead of time and link people to your show’s official page and/or this post)

    Good luck – the trailer is good and the show sounds like it could be quite interesting – if likely also a tad compressed. If I were advising The History Channel I’d suggest a few things:

    1. Make a lot of the outtakes and additional footage available online (and for that matter make the whole episode available online – at the very least for purchase via iTunes but even better for immediate viewing via Netflix on-demand, etc)

    2. For each episode link to more detailed information about the challenge as well as discussions of the technique(s) you used to attempt it. Stuff like how someone might learn the subject in a non-compressed manner as well as how they might apply similar techniques to challenges closer to home.

    Anyway looks great!



  5. I love shows like this. Survivorman is my ultimate favorite since I’m outdoors person. I’ll be sure to watch and tell people I know to watch as well! Good luck!


  6. Perfect! This is show is exactly what I’ve been wondering the most about you, Tim. How do you exactly approach learning? I’m extremely interested in how you dissect and map out the massively complicated. I have a feeling that there is a lot to your method that isn’t covered in the book.

    I’m eager to see you at work against these challenges, because I’m sure the show will give a more detailed glimpse at how you attack them.



  7. Congrats on the pilot! It looks like a good show. I do have a suggestion that might make the show a little more interesting. Instead of you lifehacking each challenge it would be more fun to watch you train a beginner or a group of beginners how to lifehack. That would keep the show from getting stale.

    I bet the pilot gets picked up, so maybe this idea for season 2.
    good luck.


  8. Tim, as I’m in Australia, I’m unable to watch it directly. (I will however tell my US friends about it).

    Other than direct promotion to US watchers, how can I (and more international viewers) increase ratings? And how can we watch the actual show, syndication or not?


  9. Tim,
    This is AWESOME!!! I knew you were at this level “playing a bigger game”.
    I’ll shoot out the link to the masses as I have the selfish desire to see this become a series.

    You Rock!


  10. Your next challenge should be Pecha Kucha. No idea how that popped in my mind, but the show would be fun to watch. I tweeted your show, shared it on gReader, and might write a blog post today. (would have done all of that regardless of the competition, althought the bag does look cool)