By Evan DeSimone
Starz is once again dabbling in digital sampling by releasing two of its new shows on Facebook’s social video platform ahead of their late August premieres the cable network announced today.
Starz will premiere the first two episodes of its new original series, Seth MacFarlane’s “Blunt Talk,” starring Sir Patrick Stewart, on Facebook, giving audiences a chance to get acquainted with the freshman comedy before its linear premiere on Aug. 22. The network also plans to release the entire first season “Survivors Remorse,” executive produced by LeBron James, in advance of its season 2 debut, giving fans a chance to catch up. Both shows made their digital debut on Aug. 15 and will remain available on Facebook until Aug. 25.
Starz had tried digital sampling before as a way to boost awareness for its upcoming slate. Last year, the network streamed episodes of its reality competition “The Chair,” featuring YouTube star Shane Dawson, ahead of that show’s linear TV debut. As Facebook has rapidly closed the viewership gap with video rival YouTube, the social network has become the preferred sampling destination for a number of networks, including HBO which sampled two of its new series there earlier this year.
While both networks have offered early viewing windows before on Facebook, as well as on YouTube, it seems that Facebook’s inherently social nature may be turning the tide in that platform’s favor.
According to Starz CEO Chris Albrecht the network isn’t just looking for views but also engagement. “We continue to witness first-hand the importance of engaging fans in the social media community who have migrated the ‘water cooler talk’ to a much bigger and virtual break room,” he said in a statement.
On Facebook, Starz is also able to leverage the social reach of its series’ stars. As Starz executive marking VP Alison Hoffman noted in a statement, “Having LeBron James and Patrick Stewart share early previews of their shows directly with their passionate Facebook fans is an exciting opportunity for Starz. It’s a great way to get viewers watching, buzzing and sharing our content.”