July 1, 2013
Cable Programmers Say Appeal of Comic-Con Remains
By Joyce Wang
Comic-Con became the must-attend event for cable programmers a few years ago, but is it still? HGTV, not exactly synonymous with Comic-Con, certainly thinks so. "It’s THE consumer entertainment event of the year and provides the perfect opportunity for HGTV to tap into a young and affluent consumer base—one that’s not only passionate about entertainment, but also home,” said Shannon Jamieson Driver, HGTV’s vp of marketing & media strategies. The network joined forces with Disney last year for an electrifying garden exhibit inspired by Tim Burton’s new film, “Frankenweenie.” This year, at the San Diego Comic-Con International (July 18-21), it’s teaming with Summit Entertainment on an “Ender’s Game” exclusive fan experience exhibit, as part of the studio’s film promotion at the event.
In addition, HGTV is recreating the Wiggins Home living room being featured at the exhibit. As the “Journey Begins At Home” in “Ender’s Game,” HGTV’s space will showcase a sneak peek at a home of the future. Increased participation of cable and broadcast networks at Comic-Con is a win for HGTV, as it makes Comic-Con “a more robust destination for entertainment-obsessed consumers,” Driver said. HGTV’s goal with “experiential events like Comic-Con” is to expand the brand’s reach by having “an organic presence in counterintuitive places,” she said. “We want consumers to be surprised to see us, but once they walk through our experience, we want them to say, ‘Oh, that makes sense.’ That alone makes us stand out anywhere we go.”
USA Network’s “Psych” series is returning to Comic-Con for the 5th time this year. It recently ordered additional episodes for an 8th season and is allowing fans to vote for an episode they want to see appear on-air. The results will be announced at the event, “the perfect marketing tool for the network to access the millions of passionate Psych fans directly,” said Hilary Smith, svp, communications. Comic-Con is still “relevant,” as it provides “an enormous platform to reach a loyal and influential fan base,” she said. According to Smith, “as a network, you need to differentiate yourself in order to stand-out at Comic Con.” The event also gives actors and producers a chance to interact with fans, she said.
Thanks to its “Toy Hunter” series, Travel Channel is well-suited for Comic-Con. The show is returning to the event for the 3rd time this year. Toy dealer Jordan Hembrough, featured on the show, has been meeting with toy collectors at Comic-Cons for his company for some time now, according to general manager Andy Singer. The network will be “simply following him with a camera and joining him at the show,” he said. For Travel Channel, San Diego Comic-Con is the "Super Bowl of all Comic-Cons," Singer said, calling it “a prime hub for so much of our country’s pop culture to come together.” And “Toy Hunter” is “a slice of Americana,” he said.
MTV is doing a “Teen Wolf” panel and a “MTV2 Party in the Park.” It’s also hosting a live pitch competition between 3 of the top creators in the business. MTV Comics will premiere graphic novel “The Gloom.” In addition, MTV talent will anchor its live streaming coverage of Comic-Con all weekend long, offering hourly exclusive reveals of fans’ favorite shows and most-anticipated movies. FX Networks’ original series “Wilfred,” “Archer,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and “Sons of Anarchy” will be part of panel discussions, press rooms and autograph signings.