Syfy Gets Social as Upfronts Roll On


NEW YORK — Syfy said it will double down on building social media and interactivity into its new shows, while IFC, GSN and WE tv will look to invest in traditional reality and scripted fare, as the cable upfront season maintained its busy pace last week.

Syfy president Dave Howe said the network is “exploring every new way” to use second-screen and social-media opportunities to allow viewers to participate and saturate themselves in the stories and the characters that they watch on the channel.

Leading the charge is the network’s Defiance, which launches today (April 15) on Syfy and ties in with a videogame version that follows along with the show’s plot. The network will also debut quarterly multiscreen, interactive events including scripted thriller series Helix, competition series Opposite Worlds, miniseries Ringworld, reality show Unbreakable and scripted series Dominion.

The NBCUniversal-owned network also tapped several big-name actors and producers to create scripted projects, including actor Jamie Foxx, whose Foxxhole Productions company will develop a five-episode horror-themed anthology series that will debut in October; and producer Robert Zemeckis who will develop No Place, based on the Top Cow comic book The Test.

IFC ordered three comedy pilots in a development slate that includes Timms Industrial Piping (working title), a stop-motion animation series; Garfunkel & Oates, which centers on the misadventures of a female comedy-folk duo; and International Plan, about two newly-single guys who form a friendship while traveling the world looking for love.

WE tv (which, like IFC, is part of AMC Networks) said this fall it will add a third night of original programming, on Fridays, to complement its Thursday- and Saturday-night lineups. First on tap for Fridays will be The Lylas, following singer-songwriter Bruno Mars’ sisters as they form a pop band. The womenfocused network also ordered Pregnant & Dating, a series that spotlights five single women who choose to become moms (coming to Saturday nights this summer); and The Ruckers: Southern Royals, a docu-soap showcasing three modern African-American sisters as they carry on their successful old-world Southern family name (Thursdays starting this fall).

GSN (owned by DirecTV and Sony Pictures Entertainment), coming off its “best year ever,” according to CEO David Goldhill, and riding primetime gains in the first quarter, officially greenlit two new original series, one being the revamped Minute to Win It, starring Apolo Anton Ohno, launching June 25 at 8 p.m. The other is a British import, The Chase, a general-knowledge competition series pitting contestants against an expert dubbed “The Beast.” It also has six new original series in development, including: Dance Rivals, about two competing dance studios in Utah; It Takes a Church, in which a congregation searches for suitors for a single parishioner; Mind of a Man, in which two female contestants try to guess how men would answer questions about dating and marriage; reality series The Imposter and You Don’t Know What You’re Missing, a game show that challenges family members to recall 10 meaningful items on display in their home.

Looking ahead, Turner Broadcasting’s Adult Swim set its upfront presentation for Wednesday, May 15, and ESPN set its upfront for May 14, both in New York.