South by Southwest in Austin is just around the corner, and this year even more television networks are finding interactive and experiential ways to highlight new series and programs.
The week-long pop culture festival running from March 13 - 21 has long been deviating from its roots in technology, film and music. Last year, USA made its initial splash for Mr. Robot at the event. This year, brands are already lining up to figure out ways to encourage fans to become more engaged with their favorite shows.
First up is Comedy Central’s @Midnight with Chris Hardwick, which will launch a live broadcast on Periscope to engage fans who didn’t score SXSW tickets. This is the first time a late-night show will broadcast a full episode live exclusively on the social media platform.
@midnight with Chris Hardwick, produced by Funny Or Die, is a highly social late-night talk show, generating an average of 243,000 weekly social mentions, so this type of promotion aligns well with the brand.
“There’s no better place than SXSW to host the first ever live Periscope episode of TV’s most social late night show,” said Walter Levitt, Comedy Central Chief Marketing Officer in a statement. “We are excited to host hundreds of @midnight fans live in Austin, and to bring it to thousands more from the comfort of their homes.”
The series leads viewers down an Internet wormhole with a rotating lineup of today’s top comedians battling to determine who has the funniest take on the day’s pop culture. Using social media as the catalyst and a fake game show as the setting, @midnight challenges comedians to win the Internet by slashing the craziest, most absurd news and shares, from the creepiest Craigslist posting to Buzzfeed lists and infamous #HashtagWars.
In partnership with SXSW Comedy, the off-air event is free to SXSW badge holders and takes place during the first night of Interactive on Friday, March 11 at 9 p.m. Panelists Doug Benson, Arden Myrin and @midnight’s #PointsMe winner and Austin local, Chris Cubas, battle for points as the entire show plays out.
RELATED: @midnight’s Game-Changing #pointsme Campaign
The team at Periscope also was pleased about the upcoming live broadcast, recalling the massive Twitter explosion after SXSW 2007.
“Periscope allows anyone to share a moment as it’s happening, and in celebration of SXSW, fans can now experience @midnight in a new way,” said Twitter’s Joanne Park, TV partnerships.
Meanwhile, Showtime added indie pop artists BØRNS and GIVERS to its three-day music line-up that will feature 27 bands in celebration of Cameron Crowe’s new music series Roadies, which premieres Sunday, June 26 at 10 p.m.
RELATED: Showtime Releases First Look of Cameron Crowe’s ‘Roadies’
Stars Luke Wilson (Old School, Enlightened) and Screen Actors Guild Award nominee Carla Gugino (San Andreas) will kick off the event, from March 16 to 18, introducing Friday’s headliners to the SXSW Music crowd.
The series provides an insider’s look at the reckless, romantic, funny and often poignant lives of a committed group of “roadies” who live for music and the de facto family they’ve formed along the way.
In the spirit of paying homage to the unsung heroes and backstage workers who put the show on the road, Showtime is inviting all roadies working SXSW to join the music festival as VIPs, where they’ll receive receive free massages, complimentary barbecue and cocktails, premium giveaways and swag.
The Head and The Heart will headline the Showtime music festival, and other acts include Jamestown Revival, Grizfolk, Ra Ra Riot, Sun Kil Moon, Black Joe Lewis, White Denim, and more.
BØRNS released his debut album Dopamine in the fall of 2015 to rave reviews. The current single “Electric Love” is climbing the Top 40 radio chart, and has earned over 48 million streams on Spotify.
GIVERS formed in 2008 in Louisiana, and the area’s zydeco, Cajun, and jazz cultures mixed with their affection for new wave, funk, and world music, have influenced their music to this day. With two albums under their belt, GIVERS have toured extensively and performed at Coachella in 2012, Lollapalooza in 2012, as well as the New Orleans Jazz Festival. Their song “Up Up Up” was featured on Glee, and in a number of national television commercials.
ALSO RELATED: ‘Game of Thrones’ Preview Comes with ‘SXSWesteros’ and History Lessons