Starz will look to build momentum for the second season of its scripted drama Crash by offering the first two episodes of the show’s new season on video-on-demand and the Web in advance of its launch on the linear channel.
Cox Communications, Insight Communications, Mediacom Communications, Charter Communications and Comcast will all run the first two episodes of Crash’s second-season via their VOD offerings on Sept. 11 and Sept. 18 respectively, a week before the episodes' Sept. 19 and Sept. 26 debuts on the network, according to Starz executive vice president of programming Stephan Shelanski.
DirecTV's The 101 channel will also feature the first two episodes on Sept. 12 and Sept. 19, a week prior to their respective airings on Starz.
The network expects to duplicate last year’s online reach of the teaser episodes, which ran on outlets like YouTube, iTunes and TV.com. The network would only say it’s currently negotiating with those online sites to garner distribution of the episodes.
A similar promotional stunt for the launch of Crash last October drew nearly 3.5 million viewers to the premiere episode, according to Shelanski.
“The whole purpose of the originals is also to get people interested in Starz and get people to take notice of Starz,” he said. “By making it available to viewers outside of just the Starz network, we’re trying to build anticipation of the show as well as drive people to the network where they can find all the shows.”
The Crash episode sampling will be complemented by a multimedia marketing campaign, as well as the Sept. 15 DVD release of the show’s freshman season.
Starz hopes it can build on the less-than-spectacular 1.3 million-viewer average audience for the show’s first season. Season two will feature new story lines and new cast members, such as Keith Carradine and Valerie Perrine. Dennis Hopper will reprise his role as aging, wild record producer Ben Cendars for the new season.
“We are optimistic that we will build on those numbers this season,” he said. “It’s up against tough competition, so we’ll look at the aggregate number of viewers across all platforms.”
Starz will also deploy its VOD and online sneak-preview strategy for its January 2010 launch of its newest original series Spartacus, according to Shelanski. Spartacus joins a growing original-programming lineup that includes the April debut of the second season of comedy series Party Down and the debut of a new laugher series, tentatively titled Failure to Fly.
Still undecided are the fates of sophomore comedy series Head Case, network documentary series Starz Inside and standup comedy series Martin Lawrence Presents First Amendment Standup, according to Shelanski.
“We’re still planning out what the rest of 2010 looks like,” he said. “We haven’t made any official announcements on any other shows, but there will be more shows in 2010 that we will be announcing in the next couple of months.”