More than a 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 Facebook
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.