TV Shows At Comic-Con: Going Straight To Consumers, Risks And All

This is the week TV producers hope bloggers, whisperers, fanatics and other hangers-on at the just-finished Comic-Con convention in San Diego will be getting the right messages -- that the TV shows they've been introduced to are cool, have buzz, and, must be seen as soon as possible.

Will Joss Whedon with "Dollhouse," or J.J. Abrams with "Fringe," get the push they need? Or, will they be tomorrow's "Viva Laughlin"? There probably isn't a post-marketing analysis metric of Comic-Con just yet.

Still, TV marketers have been using Comic-Con for some time. As viewer sampling of TV shows becomes increasingly difficult, growing events like Comic-Con become even more necessary. Some 120 TV-related panels on the Comic-Con were run at the event. Twentieth Century Fox Television brought a whopping nine shows.

In the past, TV marketers always had TV critics to pass on their programming messages -- via those Television Critics Association meetings like the one just finished.

But with Comic-Con, now marketers head right to consumers -- sort of. Sure, they are not journalists and writers, but they are a marketing voice of some value, especially in an age when iTunes downloads, DVD sales, and streaming video is prevalent.

Comic-Con won't give you automatic success. TV producers might just get a big yawn from some of the faithful.  Still, what's the harm? Early screenings can be dangerous -- what with piracy and the like. But, conversely, piracy also means lots of interest.

Comic-Con can now be added to the list of things TV marketers need to do to break through the clutter.  By showing up, you have a chance, kind of like buying a lottery ticket: You have to be in it to win it.  Fox says it didn't bring "Journeyman" last year to the event, and believes that hurt the show's chances when it debuted last season.

Success stories: NBC went with "Heroes" to Comic-Con before it launched the show, and look at what that did.  Near-success stories: Though "Bionic Woman" ultimately failed, it "opened" well, meaning decent ratings. That's all that marketers can hope for.

And, if you're really lucky, all that Internet chatter can even revive the nearly dead. Can you say "Jericho"?



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