Jan. 24th, 2011

azn_jack_fiend: (Default)
I used to be really up on some of the details of movie marketing, but I really don't know that much about television show marketing, either internationally or in the United States.

[livejournal.com profile] heddychaa mentioned recently that S4 seemed a bit behind the curve in terms of promotional materials compared to Game of Thrones on HBO. I agree. Where's the official website for Torchwood: Miracle Day, for example? How are they going to grab an audience in the US who might be unfamiliar with Doctor Who?

Jane Espenson is super approachable and nice (though never less than professional) on Twitter, so I asked her. 

Her reply:

@aznjackfiend2 I'm sure Starz will do a huge campaign. The eps don't air until July. If you start too soon, show seems "old" sooner.

That sounds quite logical when it comes to the most expensive components, such as TV ads. But the scarcity of less costly promotional material at this point does seem a bit odd. Then again, I've never been this psyched about a television show, or paid as much attention to its debut. Rome on HBO came close for me. I was psyched about it from the very first mention.

I also don't have regular television, so I can't use my viewing habits to represent the typical consumer. We don't even have network TV. I haven't had it for many years. We use Netflix. That's how I started watching Torchwood in the first place: it showed up in the Watch Instantly section of Netflix.

I think Starz probably has a quite different model than HBO when it comes to promoting their shows. I know they have a huge deal where Netflix pays them for content, and that dealings between the two companies are intense.

Starz talks with Netflix weekly, no rush for new deal
A deal between Netflix and Starz's pay-TV channel will be one of the most closely watched transactions in the pay-TV business in 2011. Traditional distributors like cable and satellite TV companies fear Starz could cut a new deal that makes Netflix an even more attractive prospect for customers. Some on Wall Street worry customers are already fleeing cable for the cheaper, more streamlined over-the-top services like Netflix.

I'm not suggesting that Game of Thrones is a direct competitor to Torchwood, but I'm really interested in a marketing comparison.

HBO does not put their shows on Watch Instantly on Netflix.  Starz, of course, has their Netflix deal. Game of Thrones has had a website with photos and teaser trailers for a while now.  It's got a high built-in audience based on books, unlike Torchwood. I doubt Torchwood has anywhere near the name recognition in the United States. It's got some very excited fans hanging on every shred of news of S4 (like me) but nothing like the core of Doctor Who/Torchwood fans in the UK.

Both series have some big name actors, and, I imagine, fairly high budgets.

I'm going to be very excited in a sort of meta way about how the marketing and ratings for S4 will work thmselves out.  What do you think?

Pros for TW:
- core of cult followers based on previous seasons
- well-known US actors
- S4 is establishing ties to a different group of cult followers (Whedonites)
- Is a sci-fi show. Lots of people are actively on the lookout to watch good mature exciting sci-fi shows (like BSG) and the current offerings in that area in the US are pretty dismal.
- Netflix deal. A ton of people who don't subscribe to Starz are going to be watching it on Netflix.  They log in or fire up the Roku, see what's new on "Watch Instantly"...

- Previous history could be neutral to vaguely negative for large segments of a US audience. "Doctor Who, isn't that some cheesy British kids thing with pepperpots?" Hey, I fucking love DW, but we have to face facts here.
- Is marketing relying too much on previous word of mouth and not reaching out to new fans? Maybe, or maybe they're calculating everything just right. I have no idea at this point.
- Is the concept of Miracle Day too hard to explain? Or, perhaps, too simple?



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