Comic-Con Still Growing On Cable Nets

Annual Convention Remains A Major Marketing Play For Programmers
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More than 20 cable networks will descend on Comic-Con International Convention in San Diego this week to promote their hit shows to a unique and passionate fan base.

Despite the convention’s expansion and growing commercial appeal – from a gathering of about 300 comic-book fans in 1970 into a four-day convention drawing more than 130,000 attendees – network executives say the July 12-21 expo still provides an intimate connection between fans and talent which helps get the word out about a network’s hit shows.

Nearly double the number of cable networks will attend this year Comic-Con compared with just two years ago.

“For us it’s a terrific place to showcase our shows,” Linda Schupack, AMC's executive vice president of marketing, said. In this case, the shows in question are returning hits The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad.

“Comic-Con is really a place where passionate fans come to connect with their favorite shows and properties. It allows the fan base to celebrate as a community,” she added.

“The landscape is thicker and more people know about Comic-Con, but I don’t see that as a negative,” Stephanie Gibbons, executive vice president of marketing & on-air promotion for FX, said. “There are few opportunities to have the consumer directly interact with the consumer.”

Show stars and producers now realize how important Comic-Con can be in “in building early awareness and building that connection,” Gibbons added. “Now that talent knows about it’s easier to pull together panels where they understand the construct and they have a feel for it.”

Syfy executive vice president, marketing and global brand strategy Michael Engleman said one social-media tactic his network will employ there is offering prizes for consumers who tweet images from the Defiance Café exhibition. The network has been a fixture at Comic-Con over the years, bringing stars from such shows as Haven and Being Human (pictured) to the convention.

“It now requires marketers to be more innovative and smarter about their presence,” Engleman said. “At its heart, Comic Con is still a fan celebration and an opportunity for us to connect with our fans with our talent. Regardless of how crowded an environment it is, it’s still important to go celebrate the fan.”

A partial list of networks and shows appearing at Comic-Com in San Diego:

Adult Swim – The Heart, She Holler; The Ventura Bros.; Children’s Hospital; NTSF:SD:SVU

AMC – The Walking Dead; Breaking Bad

A&E – Bates Motel

BBC America – Orphan Black; Dr. Who

Cartoon Network – MAD; Adventure Time; Teen Titans Go!; Beware The Batman; Ben 10

Cinemax – Banshee; Strike Back

Comedy Central – South Park; Workaholics; Brickleberry; Futurama

Discovery – Mythbusters

Disney Channel – Phineas and Ferb; Gravity Falls

FearNet – Holliston

Fx – Wilfred; Archer; It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia; Sons of Anarchy

HBO – Game Of Thrones; True Blood

History – Vikings

Hub – My Little Pony

In Demand – Movies On Demand promotion: Evil Dead; The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey; G.I. Joe: Retaliation

MTV – Teen Wolf

Nickelodeon – The Legend Of Korra; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; SpongeBob SquarePants

Showtime – Dexter

Science – Outrageous Acts Of Science; Unexplained Files

Starz -- Black Sails

Syfy – Defiance: Haven: Helix; Being Human: Warehouse 13: Lost Girl

TNT – Falling Skies

USA Network – Psych