Social TV fans of 'Sherlock' unite as season 2 launches on PBS

By Natan Edelsburg Comment

PBS and WGBH’s Masterpiece appear to have struck gold again. The second season of the British, modern-day “Sherlock” premieres on PBS tonight (Sunday) at 9pm Eastern. To celebrate the occasion, PBS and WGBH/Masterpiece hosted an event for fans at NYC’s French Culinary Institute’s theater in midtown, and Lost Remote was invited.

Imagine a Comic-Con type scene where every single passionate fan is sitting in one theater with the opportunity to ask the show creators and leading actor anything they want.The energy and atmosphere felt as if all those influential fans who might constantly tweet throughout a show were all in the same room, literally unable to contain themselves with excitement around being close to their favorite program.

Benedict Cumberbatch who plays Sherlock, co-creator Steven Moffat and his wife (and producer) Sue Vertue, and Masterpiece Executive Producer Rebecca Eaton fielded questions from an extremely passionate crowd that included a real life private detective, and fans who had come in from all over the country. Check out the Storify PBS put together to see how passionate these fans really are.

Eaton told the crowd that 10,000 people lined up to get into the theater with just a few hundred seats. One fan even gave a shout out to all her “Sherlock Tumblr fans in the UK who are staying up to watch this on Facebook,” referring to the live stream of the event. These fans weren’t afraid to admit that they’d already downloaded and watched season two and that they were still excited to watch it again. Cumberbatch even joked that he knew everyone in the room had already seen it.

Season one of Sherlock, which is currently on Netflix On-Demand was a superb new take on the private detective’s life in a digital age. There were three one and a half hour episodes and each one incorporates tech into the fact finding messes and missions Sherlock and Dr. Watson (played by Martin Freeman, from the UK’s The Office) get into. We spoke with Kevin Dando, Director of Digital Marketing & Communications for PBS and Olivia Wong, Senior Account Executive for WGBH National Marketing about the launch fo season two.

Lost Remote: Why did WGBH/Masterpiece and PBS decide to bring “Sherlock” to the US originally?

Olivia Wong: MASTERPIECE on PBS has been the home of Sherlock Holmes adaptations on US television for years – we aired the Jeremy Brett series on Mystery!, and more recently, versions of “The Hound of the Baskervilles” and “The Case of the Silk Stocking.” As with all MASTERPIECE programs, “Sherlock” is quintessential British drama – wonderfully conceived with sharp writing/directing, and superb performances by the cast. It was the perfect package, with a modern techno-centric bow on top.

LR: What’s your social TV strategy for the launch of season two?

Wong: For Sherlock, Series 2, we were aware of the worldwide fandom that this series has garnered since the fist series aired in 2010, and wanted to feature new, and most importantly, quality content for our companion site. Our page on the MASTERPIECE website is filled with exclusive Q&A interviews with cast and crew, preview clips, an observation game, and much more, where new content will consistently be made available through the end of the series on May 20th.

Kevin Dando: In addition, there was a sneak preview of the first seven minutes on both the PBS and MASTERPIECE Facebook pages for fans. A screening was held in New York on May 2 for lucky superfans drawn out of 10,000 entrants, followed by a Q&A with star Benedict Cumberbatch, co-creator/producer Steven Moffat, producer Sue Vertue, and MASTERPIECE series executive producer Rebecca Eaton that was made accessible to fans at home via Livestream. At the event we had big screens placed prominently so attendees could see all the real-time tweets going out with the #SherlockPBS hashtag (and signs were everywhere with the hashtag). It was fun watching people standing in front of the monitors waiting for their tweet to enter the Twitter-stream with all the others, or taking pictures of their tweet on the screens (which they then, of course, tweeted out.)

We also put together a Storify of the NYC event a few hours after it ended and had a video up on YouTube (above) soon after that. We also plan to put up the Q&A from the event online, so those who couldn’t see the livestream will have on-demand access to it.

Wong: We’ll also be live tweeting each of the three Sherlock broadcasts (beginning with “A Scandal in Belgravia this Sunday, May 6) with Holmes experts Baker Street Blog, Baker Street Babes, and authors Leslie Klinger and Lyndsay Faye. And stay tuned for post-broadcast live chats with Sherlock cast and crew on the MASTERPIECE site in the coming weeks!

Dando: We’ve been working with partners like GetGlue to get word out about Sherlock, and there have already been nearly 10K GetGlue check-ins on Sherlock’s preview alone. We’re doing highly targeted Facebook ads and promoted tweets, all of which are performing extraordinarily well – you can tell people are eager to see this show and are gobbling up any content associated with it.