Comic-Con Still Growing on Networks

More Than 20 Channels Will Present in San Diego

More than 20 cable networks will descend on Comic-Con International 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 it has morphed into a four-day convention drawing more than 130,000 attendees — network executives say the expo (July 12-21) still provides an intimate connection between fans and talent, helping get the word out about a network’s hit shows.

Nearly double the number of cable networks will attend this year’s Comic-Con as were on hand 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. AMC is returning with hits The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad.

For Stephanie Gibbons, executive vice president of marketing & on-air promotion at FX, Comic-Con’s increased exposure is a plus. “The landscape is thicker, and more people know about Comic-Con, but I don’t see that as a negative.”

Michael Engleman, Syfy executive vice president, marketing and global brand strategy, said one social-media tactic his network will employ at Comic-Con is an offer of prizes for consumers who tweet images from its “Defiance Café” exhibition.

“[The convention] now requires marketers to be more innovative and smarter about their presence,” Engleman said.