For the first time ever, international fans of “The Walking Dead” will be able to catch the season four premiere within 24 hours of Sunday’s U.S. premiere on Fox channels around the world.
That narrowed lag time between national and local telecasts will continue for the whole 16-episode season, which is broken down into two eight-episode halves.
There are a number of advantages and reasons for the logistically ambitious strategy: “We want to prevent the spoilers for sure, we also want to make sure [international viewers] get the best version of the show — not some pirated version,” Liz Dolan, Fox International Channel’s chief marketing officer, told TheWrap. “But we also want them to get it super fast.”
Some countries with rabid fans of the zombie series don’t even want to wait 24 hours. Polish viewers, for example, will be able to watch 19 hours after viewers in the States do.
In previous seasons, FIC launched the series in 125 different countries within a week of the U.S. broadcast — which was pretty darn good in its own right.
“When we did the first three seasons of ‘The Walking Dead,’ delivering it within a week was ground-breaking,” Dolan told TheWrap. “That was the fastest global launch in the history of television.”
Probably the most difficult aspect of the near-instant turnaround time is dubbing the show in 44 different languages, Dolan said.
She told TheWrap that FIC plans on using more of this challenging timeline with other programs in the future, but found that “The Walking Dead” was the proper series to start with — as high rates of piracy (“A huge issue”) and online chatter surround the show.
The deployment strategy also allows for unique cross-promotional opportunities. This year’s push includes cross-media tactics using traditional media, apps, online games and social activations, on-ground events including zombie invasion stunts, zombie walks, premiere parties, publicity tours, special graphic channel takeovers and more.
“Because of FIC’s scale, we have the uncommon luxury of huge, cross-demo reach,” Dolan said. “Just last week our team in Japan staged a zombie invasion at a baseball game, which was immediately seen across our Fox Sports networks there.”
“You can get really creative with what you do on this show, and our teams around the world have been very effective in pushing the boundaries,” she continued. “It is every marketer’s dream.”
“The Walking Dead” is available in all major markets, including Australia, UK, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Poland, Turkey, Balkans, Baltic, Norway, Netherlands, all of Latin America, all of the Middle East, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Africa.
Season 3 of the series ranked No. 1 in markets including Mexico, Brazil, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Australia. “The Walking Dead” remains FIC’s strongest-ever performing series globally.
FIC is the international partner on the series and exclusive first window broadcaster of the show outside the U.S. “The Walking Dead” season 4 premieres in the U.S. on Sunday, Oct. 13 at 9/8c on AMC.