Sneak Peek Contagious. Will it lead to Peak Performance?

Did you get the issue and all the goodies inside?

As the new Fall TV season gets into full swing, a new marketing trend is emerging: broadcast networks are releasing extended clips of debut shows, by way of the web, prior to the OTA premier.  This tactic has seen some success with established shows returning from a long hiatus and the writer’s strike.

CBS is taking a page out of the CSI playbook and hoping LA is a money making stop on the NCIS national franchise tour.

The new sci-fi drama FlashForward is not exactly a franchisee of LOST, but ABC is hoping to draw a sizeable portion of its fans leading into the sixth and final season, as well as new ones.  In conjunction with its magic eye print ad, ABC is making a big Web 2.0 push:

  • social networking site
  • extended 18  minute official promotional clip on Hulu
  • entire debut episode available on well know file sharing sites

A first look at FlashForward on Hulu

In both of these cases, the network has an expectation of a built in audience.  They use the fan base to build buzz around the new shows, emphasizing the similarities to the established hit, simultaneously sprinkling in tidbits illustrating it is fresh and new.  The intent is clear on harnessing the power of the internet:

  • play to the biggest online draw: something free
  • play to the second biggest online draw: something contraband or leaked
  • hope it goes viral and the buzz snow balls

Existing fans feel rewarded for their loyalty and are empowered with new content to share with their community.  Who doesn’t’ enjoy being the first in the clique to discover something new.  Especially if its good.  And that’s what it boils down to:  these new shows, built in audience or not, have to stand on their own merits.  Sure, they can give nods to their predecessor and ride the coattails of the lead-in, but only for so long.  There must come a point where the similarities end and start to converge that audience into their own.  Otherwise they’ll experience another phenomenon that is quite contagious in this industry, but not so new: early cancellation.

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