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Going Overtime to Retain Fans

6/25/2012 12:01 AM Eastern

Fans of scripted cable shows such as
AMC’s The Walking Dead and TNT’s Dallas and Falling
Skies
are extending their weekly episode experiences
through live, interactive post-show series that
network executives say help build fan appeal.

While the reality genre has featured post-show
reunion specials as well as series off shoots such
as Discovery Channel’s After the Catch — which
offers a weekly, behind-the-scenes glimpse of the
network’s popular Deadliest Catch — there haven’t
been many on-air opportunities for fans of scripted
shows to discuss storylines, plot developments
and character actions immediately after an episode
of their favorite show has aired.

REHASHING ‘DEAD’

Last year, AMC launched Talking Dead, a companion show
to its zombie-driven hit series The Walking Dead that airs
three hours after the debut of each original episode. The
live, one-hour series features a panel of celebrity series fans
discussing what happened in the latest installment.

Fans can interact with the panelists via email and Twitter to
discuss what happened during the episode, according to AMC.

“I think it’s a great way to give back to the viewers who watch
the show religiously every week,” Mary Conlon, vice president
of nonscripted original programming for AMC, said. “It adds
value to the viewing experience.”

In its second season, which ended this past March, Talking
Dead
averaged 1.3 million viewers, despite airing at midnight.
The series’ March 18 finale drew more than 4 million viewers
— almost half the 9 million viewers who tuned in to The Walking
Dead
’s finale two hours earlier.

“AMC recognized the enormous fan base for the series, and
with that, we wanted to create a platform in which the community
can come together and have a dialogue and talk about the
show and what happened,” Conlon said.

The network will air a standalone version of Talking Dead on
July 8 as part of the network’s two-day Walking Dead episode
marathon, according to Conlon.

TNT is taking a similar tack to Talking Dead, but on the Web,
launching a pair of after-show series for sophomore sciencefiction skein Falling Skies and revived 1980s primetime soap
opera Dallas, according to Michael Wright, president, head of
programming for TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies (TCM).

The Web series — Falling Skies’ 2nd Watch and Dallas
Round-Up
— stream shortly after each of the shows’ weekly
episodes and feature both taped segments and live viewer interaction
with viewers, Wright said.

TNT wouldn’t disclose how many streams the two postshow
Web series generated for their initial runs. But Wright
said the online offerings are a response to viewer and advertiser
requests to extend the experience of the shows beyond
their linear-TV airings.


GOING MULTIPLATFORM

“We are responding to the marketplace that really wants to
create this sort of extension … and using a panel approach
and allowing fans to explore deep into the relationships
seems to be the way to go,” he said. “We are evolving our
linear-television business to a multiplatform video business,
and this extension into the digital space with shows like 2nd
Watch
and Dallas Round-Up is a natural evolution.”

Both Falling Skies and Dallas create a lot of viewer engagement
because both serial dramas allow audiences to build
relationships with their fictional characters, Wright said.
And that leads to increased discussion of the show in socialmedia
forums.

“It’s about exploring character relationship, character histories,
and letting fans reach out via Twitter and email to learn
more about these characters,” he said.

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