Fall premieres: NBC got fans to tune in and #SaveBenson

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Last Wednesday, NBC’s Law and Order: SVU helped deliver NBC’s highest Wednesday premiere rating in five years and became the most tweeted about scripted series of the night. It earned a 29 percent ratings jump over its last premiere and garnered a 63 percent increase in Tweets.

How does a show in its 15th season keep fans coming back to yet another premiere? By ending last season with a cliffhanger, a departure from its usual script, that kept fans questioning all summer long: What will happen to beloved character Detective Olivia Benson? When last we left Detective Benson, played by Mariska Hargitay (@Mariksa), her character had been kidnapped by William Lewis, played by Pablo Schreiber (@schreiber_pablo).

Leaving Detective Benson’s life in jeopardy brought fans to her rescue on Twitter.

The hashtag #SaveBenson took off with fans, and the SVU writers and cast embraced #SaveBenson and kept the anticipation going all summer long.

“This is their story. … Doink doink

Promote your hashtag and spread the word
By promoting the hashtag everywhere from the TV trailer to #SaveBenson T-shirts, the show encouraged fans to stay engaged and tune in for the season premiere.

The hashtag flashed throughout the trailer promoting the new season:

It was featured on clothing the cast wore, and is sold in the online store:

Fans painted their nails:

Made their own shirts:

And even took time out on their wedding day to #SaveBenson:

As showrunner Warren Leight illustrates, #SaveBenson also appears where you least expect it:

The network promoted the hashtag in its countdown to the premiere:

Live-tweet during the show
On premiere night, #SaveBenson dominated the conversation:

To pull viewers into the drama, stars from the show tweeted during the two-hour premiere.

Even Olivia’s kidnapper was in on the action:

As was her old partner:

The writers’ room tweeted behind the scenes, inviting followers to send pics of their viewing parties:

SVU writers posted Vine videos too:

The activity from the cast got some other high-profile stars going:

Continue the buzz between episodes
To continue the conversation between episodes, the staff gave fans a taste of what happens behind the scenes:

The show teased what’s next for Olivia:

And stars continued to play games with the fans:

The premiere was a ratings hit for NBC. The latest figures indicate that Law and Order: SVU delivered NBC’s highest Wednesday premiere rating in five years, with 9.5 million viewers. But it was the scripted social hit of the night too, with 164,480 Tweets and 67,801 people tweeting. With an average of 2.43 Tweets about the show per viewer, this was clearly an engaged audience (the average is 1.4).

The best of the rest
NBC used Twitter to engage audiences across all of its fall premieres, which kicked off its season using many of our best practices:

  • Live-tweeting by cast members
  • Have a Twitter host offer running commentary during the show
  • Do a Q&A with show stars and writers
  • Use Vine videos to promote previews

Specifically, a number of NBC’s shows used these tactics:

Live-tweeting by cast members
@ChicagoFire had cast and writers tweeting around its season premiere.

Actors reacted along with the fans:

And became involved in the fandom:

Even the co-creator shared his perspective:

Host tweets commentary during shows
Parks and Recreation (@parksandrecNBC) star Retta (@unfoRETTAble) tweeted the entire NBC lineup on Thursday:

Parks and Recreation:

The Michael J Fox Show:


Twitter Q&A with the actors from the show account
@NBCBlacklist produced a Q&A with star James Spader leading into the premiere of The Blacklist:

Using Vine videos to tease new episodes
The Voice used Vine to give a sneak peek of an upcoming performance of a Young The Giant song:

And Young the Giant even sent a follow-up Vine video with well wishes:

Have you seen other innovative uses of Twitter? Email us at [email protected].