As Starz prepares for next week's linear launch of Boss, its original drama series starring Kelsey Grammer as a fictional Chicago mayor with a dark secret, the premium programmer will provide digital subscribers with a full-episode sneak peek via affiliates' on-demand platforms, as well as other advanced media outlets.
Looking to create awareness amidst the myriad content choices available to consumers and ultimately foster tune-in for the series, Starz has marshaled more resources than ever to support Boss, including making the pilot available to some 76 million homes via on-demand platforms proffered by cable, satellite and telco video providers, beginning Oct, 14. Boss is scheduled to make its linear debut on the premium network Oct. 21 at 10 p.m.
"We've been doing this for a while, since we premiered Crash. This is our most significant effort to date and we're working with more of our affiliates partners than ever to create this sampling opportunity," said Nancy McGee, executive vice president of marketing for Starz Entertainment. "Kelsey is nothing short of magnificent and so is the rest of the cast. Boss is extremely well-written and we have high expectations that it will have a broad appeal."
To that end, Starz has already renewed Boss, produced by Lions Gate Television for Starz Entertainment, for a second season, before the eight-episode first campaign starts.
Kelly Bumann, senior vice president consumer marketing for Starz, said that conversations were initiated three months ago with the various affiliates in order to get in the "promotional window."
Affiliate support for Boss's break will manifest in the form of cross-channel promos, print materials, barker channel touts and on-demand vehicles. She said that Boss screeners were disseminated to the distributor and were well-received, engendering further enthusiasm and support for the project.
Comcast, DirecTV, Dish Network, Time Warner Cable, Verizon FiOS, Cox, Charter, Mediacom, Insight Communications, Armstrong, Midcontinent Communications, Buckeye CableSystem, GCI, Blue Ridge Communications, Massillon Cable TV and Antietam Cable Television will be airing the Boss premiere on their respective VOD platforms, according to Starz.
In addition, the series starter will be available online through Comcast's Xfinity TV (www.xfinitytv.com), Dish's (www.DISHOnline.com) and Charter's (www.charter.net) online platforms.
Boss's bow also will air at various times on Dish Network's 101 Channel, while the episode will become available for sampling on DirecTV's Audience Network, following its Oct. 21 linear debut. For its part, AT&T U-verse's Buzz channel will air an extended clip from the pilot.
Users on the go can also view the first episode on Comcast's Xfinity TV app (www.xfinity.com/tvapp) for the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.
In addition, the episode will be available free for sampling online at www.starz.com/boss and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/boss.starz. For the first time, Dish -- which has previously incorporated Starz series promotional materials -- is embedding the programmer's video player in its Facebook page and will air the full Boss episode.
"We're working with Comcast with its iPad apps and Dish really wants to increase its Facebook engagement," explained Bumann. "We want to be as flexible as possible in working with our affiliates, and create opportunities that support their objectives."
McGee said given the series' storylines, which touch on scandal, the programmer has established scandalousdirt.com, a site that is looking to elicit user responses around the fictitious, as well as real-life political intrigue. "Boss is a political drama, so we thought this was a good way to generate interaction," she said.
The above efforts notwithstanding, Starz is also supporting Boss with a multimedia buys, encompassing cable avails, spot TV in top markets, online schedules and print. Outdoor and radio will also figure into mix in Chicago, with the latter linked to Grammer.
"Kelsey has such a recognizable voice," said Bumann of Grammer, whose character played a radio psychiatrist on the long-running sitcom hit Frasier.
Executive-prodcued by Grammer, the Golden Globe and Emmy winner is making his TV dramatic series debut as Mayor Tom Kane. He's joined by Connie Nielsen (Gladiator, The Devil's Advocate) as his wife Meredith, a formidable Chicago power in her own right; Hannah Ware (Cop Out) as their estranged daughter Emma; Jeff Hephner (The O.C.,Hellcats) as the ambitious young politician Ben Zajac; Kathleen Robertson (Girls Club, Beverly Hills 90210) as the mayor's supremely organized chief of staff Kitty O'Neil; Martin Donovan (Weeds, Unthinkable) as Kane's senior advisor; and Troy Garity (Sunshine, Bandits) as enterprising journalist Sam Miller, who is zeroing in on Kane.