A rising trend with the coming fall lineup for US TV networks is the desire and necessity to make shows more interactive. Though the leap of making all show content available online seems a stretch for most shows (FOX’s Reunion being a notable exception), legions of shows are using non-traditional ways to deepen their relationships with show viewers this season. The Simpsons publishes podcasts with episode summaries through iTunes. Entire season DVDs are out within 12 months of airing. Lost is working with Entertainment Weekly on an integrated campaign to deliver cards informing about backstories for characters. All the while, supplanting more traditional online banner advertising, on-air promos and episode trailers and show-related websites. But unlike the past, TV show marketers is no longer focusing on a one way message.
For many years now, there have been message boards for show fans — but now TV shows are starting to encourage and capitalize on them. Last year several cast members of Lost were active contributers to fan message boards. MediaPost reports today that a growing number of shows are choosing the BlogAds network to connect with potential show watchers and influencers. And it helps that marketers are not *exclusively* promoting the same old shows either. Content is getting better (due in no small part to the shrinking popularity of reality TV). Movie stars are "defecting" to TV including Geena Davis, Chris O’Donnell, Kiefer Sutherland, Melanie Griffith, Dennis Hopper, Benjamin Bratt, Freddie Prinze, Jr. just to name a few.
The bottom line is, even as experts predict it’s Tivo-assisted demise, some TV marketers seems to be getting smarter about what it takes to engage an audience. Fantasy Football helped the NFL to deepen it’s connection to fans in a powerful way. The use of new marketing ideas during the leadup to the new TV season echoes of achieving the same goal. TV can be a popular driver of consumer generated media – and the more shows that recognize and tap into this – the more chance TV has of surviving greatly exaggerated reports of it’s death.