How do you market a new show that 1.5 million people will have sampled before it airs on TV?
That's Syfy's challenge with Caprica, the prequel series to the network's hit space drama Battlestar Galactica. The two-hour pilot airs on Friday, Jan. 22. By then, Syfy says 1.5 million people will have seen at least part of it on Hulu, Syfy.com, DVD, FOD (free on demand) and Apple and Amazon downloads, or at film-festival screenings.
Blake Callaway, senior vice president of brand and strategic marketing at the network, said Syfy decided to use the pilot at the core of marketing the entire 18-episode series.
"Traditionally, [the approach was] spend a lot of money to get viewers to watch episode 1," he said. "We're just as heavily promoting week 2 as well."
The aired pilot episode will have some new features, mostly in the nature of establishing shots of the planet Caprica, and a "supertease" that foreshadows the rest of the season, Callaway said. But Syfy doesn't really know how many people have watched the entire episode and how many just watched portions and will tune in to see the whole thing on Jan. 22.
The DVD went on sale, and on iTunes, back in March, and now the pilot is available for free on iTunes as an incentive to buy a season pass of Caprica, Callaway said. That gives Apple and Amazon a chance to remarket the show. The early access to Caprica's pilot also benefited Hulu, which was happy to get it, Callaway said.
Syfy's also targeting the "young, fast-growing" Hispanic market by doing Spanish-language advertising on fellow NBC Universal networks Telemundo and Mun2, and the pilot will re-air on Mun2, as well as on Bravo, USA and Universal HD, after Jan. 22.
Other marketing tactics include establishing a Caprica Open Mic application on Facebook that's a weekly "interactive dialogue" between fans and the cast and producers. It starts with Alessandra Torresani (Zoe Graystone) on the subject of "favorite badass female robots: Syfy will post a weekly top 10 reel highlighting the most provocative answers.
Syfy ran a national print ad campaign in such outlets as Vanity Fair and Interview and on Web sites, including Daily Beast and Wired.
Film festival screenings were held in Woodstock, N.Y., Austin, Texas, and San Diego, and a series in New York City partnering with Vice magazine.
"This is sort of our biggest priority for the year," Callaway said. And not just for week 1.
Kent has been a journalist, writer and editor at Multichannel News since 1994 and with Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He is a good point of contact for anything editorial at the publications and for Nexttv.com. Before joining Multichannel News he had been a newspaper reporter with publications including The Washington Times, The Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal and North County News.
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