Back in September of 2015, Broadcast Management Group was contracted to provide live production services for the 100th episode special of “Impractical Jokers”. I distinctly remember getting that initial phone call about the project. It seemed sort of crazy, possibly impossible, but amazingly fun. And I couldn’t wait to get started. TruTV had developed the perfect opportunity to leverage a live production to boost fan engagement.
As we got closer to the live production, the scope of the project continued to evolve – as is wont to happen. In addition to the live broadcast, TruTV now wanted to produce a 30-minute web only pre-show, a 60-minute web only video stream that ran concurrent to the live production, and a 30-minute web only post-show. Why? Honestly, why not? We already had the resources in place for the live show – mobile unit, transmissions, lighting, staging, crew… everything. The logistics behind adding these 3 web shows were pretty minimal compared to the scope of the larger project. And TruTV knows their audience – “Impractical Jokers” is the network’s most popular program and they have a die-hard fan base. They knew that their viewers would love this additional content and that it would add a great deal of value to the “main event” – a live high wire walk in the middle of New York’s South Street Seaport. The project was a resounding success.
This concept of live production surrounding a taped, episodic series is growing in popularity. AMC recently announced their plans to air live, post-show specials after the season 2 premiere and season 2 finale of their hit show, “Better Call Saul” (the prequel to the wildly popular, “Breaking Bad”). AMC also has a show dedicated exclusively to the “Walking Dead” series, called “Talking Dead”. While “Talking Dead” isn’t a live production, the concept is still the same – it’s a way to generate buzz and keep people talking about a series.
A live special gives fans an opportunity to engage with the show’s creators and characters in a way that no other platform can. Sure, you can read comments on social media. Or you can read blogs and forums about the show. But there’s no other platform – other than live production – that allows viewers to engage in real time with the masterminds behind their favorite show. It gives fans a chance to ask questions – either in person or through social media – and hear those questions answered. In real time. By the people who PRODUCE the show. It helps generate buzz about the remainder of the season, or keeps people guessing about what will happen next season.
Everyone wants to go live. It’s fresh. It’s exciting. It’s engaging. And now it’s becoming an important marketing tool – giving fans an opportunity to dig deeper into their favorite shows while creating new advertising opportunities for networks.
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