Syfy is looking to channel the passion of its fans by establishing regular programming events that blend live TV viewing, social media and video chats with the network’s talent.
Over the next few weeks, the cable network will roll out Syfy Connect, a Web platform to aggregate fan commentary posted during first-run episodes of its top series as they air. Conversations that take place on Syfy.com as well as on social media giants Facebook and Twitter will be included.
In addition, Syfy Connect will host video chats with cast members, allowing fans to pose questions and watch stars answer live via Ustream. “[It's] sort of like a one-way Skype call,” explained Craig Engler, svp, gm of Syfy's digital operations.
Syfy Connect was born out of a recent experimental Web-based chat session held for Ghost Hunters that generated 11 million streams in a single day, according to Engler. But the event, while successful, would be hard to replicate -- which is why Syfy is building out the Connect template. “That was a massive undertaking,” said Engler. “So we thought, can we take that experience and translate it in some way?”
The plan is to use the full Syfy Connect video chat treatment sparingly, mostly for season premieres and finales. While executives are still debating which series to use for Connect's debut, Engler predicted it would launch during a reality show (Ghost Hunters or Mary Knows Best) in the next two weeks.
The network is actively seeking a sponsor for Connect; Engler is confident the concept will be attractive to multiple brands: “We think this concept is very simple, very straightforward, and should be very effective. We are confident that this will appeal to a large number of people.”