Syfy is looking to channel its fans passionate, vocal nature by establishing regular programming events which blend live TV viewing, social media and video chats with network’s talent.
Sometime over the next few weeks Syfy will roll out Syfy Connect, a Web platform that will aggregate fan commentary that gets posted during first-run episodes of Syfy’s top series as they air, including conversations that take place on Syfy.com as well as on social media giants Facebook and Twitter. In addition, Syfy Connect will host video chats with cast members from its shows—during which fans will be able to directly ask questions and then watch as Syfy stars answer them live via Ustream. “Sort of like a one-way Skype call,” explained Craig Engler, Syfy’s svp & gm of digital.
Syfy Connect was born out of a recent experimental Web-based chat session held for Ghost Hunters, which generated 11 million streams in a single day, according to Engler. But that 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, said Engler. While executives were still debating which series to use to debut Connect, Engler predicted it would launch during a reality series over the next two weeks, such as Ghost Hunters or the upcoming psychic series Mary Knows Best.
The network is actively seeking a sponsor for Connect; Engler is confident the concept will attractive to multiple brands. “We think this concept is very simple, very straigt forward, and should be very effective,” he said. “We are confident that this will appeal to a large number of people.”