NBCUniversal will run 13-minute highlight vignettes of the next installment of Lionsgate’s “Hunger Games” franchise across many of its networks, the latest example of how many media companies are choosing to run advertiser-backed content in a bid to nab dollars from their sponsors.
During the November 10th airing of “The Voice” on NBC, show host Carson Daly will be joined by “Hunger Games” stars Jennifer Lawrence. Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson, and the group will announce a new behind-the-scenes special set to air on NBCU-owned cable outlets including USA, Oxygen, Bravo, E! and Syfy. “Voice” viewers that night will also get a quick peek at the program, which is called “The Hunger Games: The Phenomenon” and touts the movie “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2.”
Then, on November 12th, the preview show will run on Bravo, E! and Oxygen at 8 p.m. eastern and on Syfy and USA at 11 p.m. eastern. The 13-minute preview will be followed on each network by a “first-look” at an original program slated to debut. On E!, viewers will get a look at the next cycle of “The Royals.” Bravo will offer a peek at “Vanderpump Rules” and Oxygen will highlight “Pretty. Strong.” Syfy will preview “Childhood’s End” and USA will highlight “The Colony.”
“The NBCUniversal team has been very creative in working with us on this unique way to reach our fans and we are excited to partner with them on it,” said Lara Kazandjian, executive vice president, of media for theatrical marketing at Lionsgate, in a prepared statement.
Many TV networks give a commercial spotlight to movie trailers, offering sneak previews of much-anticipated films with longer-than-usual spots during ad breaks. The reasoning is often simple: The movie trailers are sometimes as attractive and interesting as TV programs and serve to retain viewers more effectively that some commercials for floor cleaner and baking goods. In recent months, the networks have proven willing to make even more room for such stuff.
In December of last year, Discovery Communications aired a special called “Surviving Exodus,” a modern-day examination of the plagues Moses brought to Egypt in a bid to gain freedom for his followers. The hour-long show featured personalities who appeared regularly on Discovery Channel, Science Channel and Animal Planet. Viewers were not told that the program was created as part of an advertising pact between the company and 20th Century Fox to draw attention to the movie “Exodus: Gods and Kings” Viewers of the NBCU cable networks are not expected to be told directly that the “Hunger Games” preview is part of a marketing pact between Lionsgate and NBCUniversal.
NBCUniversal owns the movie-ticketing site Fandango and the Universal movie studio and has a corporate interest in figuring out new ways to draw attention to big feature-film releases. At the same time, its effort comes as advertisers are calling for commercials that look more like the programming they interrupt and less like the old-school spots that viewers are more willing to skip past or ignore.
Other networks have shown interest in letting advertisers have a hand in designing some of the content that fills their air. Time Warner’s HLN in 2014 aired “Growing America: A Journey To Success,” a documentary series about entrepreneurs that was co-produced with InterContinental Hotels Group’s Holiday Inn. Several scenes in the series were set in the well-known hotel chain.
NBCU said all sneak peek video content will be made available on Fandango and E! Online following its on-air debut.