Around one dozen cable networks will conduct panel sessions, talent signings and press conferences at this week’s three-day Comic-Con International confab to showcase their originals to the more than 130,000 expected at the San Diego Convention Center.
Once strictly for comic-book enthusiasts, Comic-Con has now become a magnet for cable networks seeking to reach often quirky, costume-wearing but passionate consumers.
Comic-Con has become for consumers what the TCA Tour — which will hold its annual summer gathering next week — is for TV writers: a chance to get close to talent, to report on new plot and script developments for existing hit shows, and to preview new programming.
The growing popularity of new-media outlets like Face book and Twitter allows networks to get information from Comic-Con to fans quickly, creating an incredibly efficient marketing tool that feels authentic because it’s derived from fellow show enthusiasts.
While most of the cable programs and stars being touted at this year’s show are from genre fare (HBO’s Game of Thrones, AMC’s The Walking Dead, Starz’s Torchwood: Miracle Day and Syfy’s Alphas among them), networks like USA are also trotting out more mainstream series for Comic-Con attendees.
Cable’s top-rated network is hosting Comic-Con panels for several of its hits, including Covert Affairs, Psych and Burn Notice. USA, making its third straight appearance at Comic-Con, said it has found an audience for more mainstream shows amidst all the niche-themed content highlighted at the convention.
In Demand will make its maiden voyage to Comic-Con to tout current or future VOD titles such as Battle: Los Angeles, Source Code,Rango and Arthur. In Demand’s efforts are all to attach a cool factor to Movies On Demand that a Comic-Con presence can provide.
What In Demand and others realize is that Comic-Con is no longer perceived as the Woodstock for sci-fi nerds and comicbook obsessed geeks. Rather, it’s a pop-culture phenomenon and marketing platform that reaches some of their biggest and most loyal viewers — even if some are outfitted like Darth Vader.