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Starz Drives Sampling Before 'Outlander's Linear Bow

Outlander fans can get out in front of the new series on Starz.

Continuing its varied gambits to generate buzz, sampling and ultiimately viewing, the premium channel will give fans of the show, which is being adapted from Diana Gabaldon’s international best-selling books and executive-produced by Ronald Moore (Battlestar Galactica), a chance to watch the show’s first episode on various platforms, a week before it makes its linear debut.

Starz CEO Chris Albrecht, in advance of the programmer’s July 11 presentation at the Television Critics Association at the Beverly Hilton, said that free sampling of the pilot will begin on August 2 via myriad affiliate on-demand vehicles and online outlets. Outlander is slated to open on Starz on Saturday, August 9 at 9 p.m. (ET/PT).

Albrecht also noted that the Starz plans to show the first eight episodes of Outlander’s initial campaign on consecutive Saturday nights in that time slot through Sept. 27, with its second half scheduled to resume early in 2015.

All told, some 82 million multichannel video households will have access to the premiere episode via additional linear, on-demand and/or online sampling opportunities on select cable, satellite and telco affiliates in the United States, as well as online through select websites. including, the Starz “Outlander” Twitter page, Starz's YouTube page, the Starz 'Outlander' Facebook page, and the free Starz Play app.

Distributors offering the first installment on their free-on-demand platforms include Comcast, DirecTV, Dish, Time Warner Cable, Verizon FiOS, Charter, Bright House, Mediacom, CenturyLink and various members of the National Cable Television Cooperative.

Starz has supported the launch of key original series like Black Sailsand Power, as well as the sophomore run of DaVinci's Demons, with various on-demand, digital and experential marketing initiatives. 

"We've heard from fans the world over who are anxiously awaiting to see how we’ve brought Claire and Jamie to life in what may possibly be the most highly anticipated series in Starz history,” said Albrecht. "Our Outlander sampling strategy serves the dual purpose of giving early access to the series premiere for those fans thirsting to watch it as soon as possible, as well as providing a vehicle that introduces the Starz experience to prospective new subscribers who are eager to learn all about this great new series."

The series, adapted from Gabaldon’s international best-selling books by Moore (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: The Next Generation), follows the story of Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe), a married combat nurse from 1945, who is mysteriously transported to 1743. In this unknown world, her life is threatened. But when she is forced to marry Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan), a chivalrous and romantic young Scottish warrior, a passionate relationship is ignited and she is torn between two vastly different men and irreconcilable lives.

Outlander is produced by Tall Ship Productions, Story Mining & Supply Company and Left Bank Pictures in association with Sony Pictures Television.

Looking to tap into the book series’ fervid fan base, Starz recently launched the microsite, a social destination that aggregates the latest related content across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, fan blogs and more. The platform promotes exclusive show content and deepens the consumer’s connection with the show and fan community.

The site, which Starz said drew more than 138,000  page views with users spending an average of 4 minutes on, features new and ongoing activities for users to share via social media including the “I Love #Outlander Because…” activity and an "apothecary cabinet" that allows users to explore the plants and herbs used during the 1700s when modern medicine wasn’t available. Users will find 14 different plants that were used to treat everything from warts and corns to heart attacks and infection. 

Starz is also giving fans a chance to learn how to “Speak Outlander” with the "Gaelic expert" feature on the Starz YouTube page, featuring cast members from the set in Scotland. Twelve words and/or phrases are featured in these lessons, including “Sassenach,” “Sàinte Mhath!” “Je Suis Prest” and “Craigh na Dun.”