Starz Wants to Marshal 'Spartacus' Superfan Digital Army

Looking to rally tune-in for the fourth and final season of its Spartacus sword-and-sandals original series, Starz Entertainment has launched Battle For Nuceria -- a season-long “transmedia” experience for the show’s superfans -- ahead of the January 2013 premiere.

The Battle For Nuceria campaign will provide more than three hours of exclusive video and include elements for devoted viewers to follow along in real time during the upcoming Spartacus: War of the Damned.

In addition, fans who compete in online contests by placing Spartacus “badges” on websites will be eligible to win rewards and prizes, including one all-expenses-paid trip to Rome as well as access to the full premiere episode two days ahead of the Jan. 25 on-air debut.

“This show has a large, loyal fan base that can be a megaphone to build buzz,” said Kelly Bumann, Starz’s senior vice president of digital marketing, touting the Battle For Nuceria as “the ultimate digital experience” for subscribers immersed in the Roman Empire-era epic.

The promo includes a dedicated website and mobile app for iOS devices. The Battle For Nuceria will comprise 16 “missions” for fans to play against each another featuring exclusive content, including 140 minutes of long-form video.

In the six missions leading up the season 4 premiere, participants will earn points by “conquering” websites for Spartacus’s rebel army by tagging them with badges and symbols. Players earn more points for being the first to take over a site.

With the promotion, Starz is offering one grand prize winner a six-day, five-night trip for two to Rome, with an estimated value of $10,175. Other prizes to be awarded based on leaderboard position include trips to the Riviera Maya, Spartacus gear, prop replicas and iPad minis.

If the entire fan base accumulates a certain number of points, Battle For Nuceria participants will be able to watch the first episode online as early Jan. 23. Starz will make the premiere episode available to pay TV affiliates for sampling on Jan. 25, when it will air on the linear channel at 9 p.m.

Starz is inviting distributors to participate in the Battle For Nuceria promotion. Cox Communications, for one, is already on board to market the stunt to subscribers, according to Starz executive director of digital marketing Erin Dwyer.

Battle For Nuceria also includes an interactive cast and crew photo roster, social networking integration and other features.

The final installment of the franchise, Spartacus: War of the Damned takes place following the defeat of Roman commander Gaius Claudius Glaber at the hands of Spartacus and his rebel army of 30,000-plus slaves.