With five Sci-Fi projects currently being shot in Vancouver, the location was the perfect setting for meet-and-greets, panel discussions, and lots of hobnobbing with actors, producers, directors, and Sci-Fi execs.
'Different use of media'
Altogether more than 30 science-fiction bloggers from sites including Yahoo, AOL, TV Squad, Monsters and Critics and the TV addict converged on Sci-fi's Canadian studios where" Battlestar Galactica," "Eureka," "Flash Gordon" and "Stargate Atlantis," as well as the miniseries "Tin Man" are all in production.
"You expect to see cameras at these things, but to see all these people with their laptops open, blogging live from the events -- it was a completely different use of media than I've ever seen," said Dave Howe, Sci-fi Channel exec VP-general manager.
Sci-Fi hooked up with online marketing specialist New Media Strategies to find and invite the bloggers and help produce the event. The idea came out of New Media and Sci-Fi's continuing online monitoring of bloggers and influencers in the science fiction world.
"Sci-Fi uses online intelligence and closely monitors online buzz. This is a natural extension of that -- the next step of engagement," said Pete Snyder, CEO of New Media Strategies. "We've found in this Web 2.0 world, the more information you can provide, the better your chances are. Shows, and products, get in trouble when they stay up on the mountain and avoid interaction with consumers."
Avoiding this audience might be impossible. Science-fiction fans tend to be tech-savvy consumers who frequently use digital channels for their information and almost demand the type of 24/7 content a blogfest can provide. And at the cable-channel-viewership level where 100,000 viewers in or out can mean a "seismic shift," it's that much more critical to reach enthusiasts in unique ways. Sci-Fi Channel is available in more than 85 million cable subscribers' homes, with hit shows such as "Battlestar Galatica" garnering 1.5 million to 2 million households every week.
The get-together served a dual purpose for Sci-Fi in not only giving their best advocates that insider access, but also gave the shows' cast and crew a chance to tap directly into the science-fiction bloggers' knowledge, likes and dislikes.
What do the alphas like?
"When you talk to your alpha consumers, you can learn so much," Mr. Snyder said. "Do they like the plot lines? Do they like the marketing of the shows? Is there a passion level for certain characters?"
Mr. Howe said the channel would definitely host another digital press tour, with the number of invitees likely to double next time. "It's very humbling to see this kind of enthusiasm. Their faces were lit up with genuine excitement," he said. "It rubs off on us."