You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Syfy skein creates Twitter ‘Haven’

Social media gives added dimension to plot

It’s hard to be a first at anything on TV, but Syfy’s “Haven” certainly has something it can tweet about.

The hourlong series, now in its second year, became the first primetime show to integrate Twitter into an on-air storyline. Its Aug. 12 episode, the fifth of the season, launched a concurrent subplot on the microblogging site for seven episodes until its season finale on Sept. 30. Series airs Fridays at 10.

“Until now, the only way people have tried to use Twitter is as a one-off event, like live-tweeting a show,” says “Haven” co-creator Jim Dunn. “We’re trying to use Twitter as a medium for telling a story. It occurred to us we could run a parallel story as a long-term way to engage fans, and get into some areas that don’t merit screen time but the fans would appreciate, such as a little more about the characters.”

The goal is to drive viewership, enlisting a new audience while giving viewers another reason to return to the mystery drama, in which each episode is closed-ended.

“Haven” is based on Stephen King’s mystery novel “The Colorado Kid” and stars Emily Rose as FBI agent Audrey Parker, who takes up residence in the small town of Haven, Maine — a longtime refuge for those with a wide range of supernatural abilities — and begins to discover the town’s many secrets.

As the parallel plot unfolds on Twitter, viewers will hear that plot referenced in a line of dialogue or catch glimpses of it in the show, such as a sign in a coffee shop, where they’ll be directed to follow the Twitter conversation through two characters.

Vince (Richard Donat) and Dave (John Dunsworth) run Haven’s newspaper, and in the show join Twitter as newcomers to the microblogging site.

Viewers who follow their characters (@VinceHaven, @DaveHaven) will see them interact with a mysterious Twitter user (@ColdInHaven) who knows an uncanny amount about Haven’s secrets. The new character will not appear onscreen in the story arc, but the subplot serves to set up her introduction for future episodes in a projected third season.

“We really wanted to utilize Twitter with real-time interaction, disseminating information as well as engaging for the first time ever in the content of a show,” says co-executive producer Lloyd Segan. “This medium allows us to reveal character aspects and the humanity displayed in the stories we tell. It’s a procedural, but at its core is its heart and humor, and this is another way to get that across.”

The producers and Syfy worked with Twitter’s media integration team in San Francisco in the development process.

“They asked questions about how they could make it Twitter-y,” says Robin Sloan, manager of media partnerships at Twitter. “Our message was fundamentally about how they could fit Twitter into one of the stories they tell so well naturally. It’s remarkable how they’ve jumped in with both feet, immediately seeing the creative potential.”

To measure audience response to the digital arc, Twitter will pull stats from its analytics systems over the seven-week period, and use “Haven” as a case study for other series that want to dive into Twitter, Syfy digital g.m. and senior VP Craig Engler says. Syfy will conduct research after the finale of the show, which garnered 2.67 million total viewers in its first three outings.

Meantime, the cable net is watching the number of Twitter followers rise — Vince and Dave each had more than 10,000 within five days of the initial Twitter episode.

“The ‘Haven’ website did its best day of traffic on Aug. 12, and 44% of that was from Twitter integration,” Engler says. “We can measure buzz by seeing who is using the hashtag (#HavenNews) and how many people are talking about it. Hopefully, we’ll learn a couple things, as this is something you figure out as you go along.”

All this is not to say that viewers who don’t participate in Twitter will be left out.

“For the viewer who knows nothing about this, it plays as a perfectly natural season, but for those on Twitter, it plays with an added level of meaning,” Dunn says. “Some of the secrets and mythology in the Twitter story will come back to roost in the concluding episode.”

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Emmys 2019: Biggest Winners and Losers

    Winners and Losers of the 71st Emmy Awards

    The 71st Emmy Awards was a spectacular affair for the Brits, while broadcast networks all but vanished. Watch Variety’s Elaine Low and Audrey Yap unpack TV’s biggest night of the year, which saw “Game of Thrones” and “Fleabag” take home the top prizes, winning best drama series and best comedy series, respectively. Popular on Variety

  • Atmosphere71st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, Show,

    Emmy Viewers Not 'Feelin' Good' About Bizarre Music Choices

    It was known ahead of time that the Emmy Awards planned to dispense with a traditional orchestra or pit band for the walk-up and bumper music. What wasn’t anticipated was that the music choices were being outsourced to a bar mitzvah DJ in Des Moines. Or, very possibly, it was a local who had found [...]

  • Atmosphere71st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, Show,

    Emmys: Big 4 Broadcasters Post Lowest Combined Wins Ever

    The Big 4 broadcast networks put a cap on their worst year in Emmy history on Sunday night. ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC brought home just 16 Emmy Awards — the lowest combined total in history for the four major broadcast networks. The previous low was 19 combined wins in 2016. Last year, the networks [...]

  • Karamo BrownLA LGBT Center 'Hearts of

    Karamo Brown Addresses Backlash Against Sean Spicer Comments

    Karamo Brown has doubled down on comments he made about his fellow “Dancing with the Stars” contestant Sean Spicer, in which he promoted the idea of meeting political adversaries “in the middle.” The amicable “Queer Eye” host received criticism when he said he was “most excited to meet” Spicer ahead of the show’s 28th season, [...]

  • Billy Porter Emmy Win 2019 Pose

    Billy Porter Dispels Rumors of RuPaul Rift Backstage at Emmys

    Billy Porter choked up backstage on Sunday at the Emmy Awards as he spoke about the larger cultural significance of his lead drama actor Emmy win for the FX drama “Pose.” Porter leads the large ensemble on the series set in 1980s New York City during the height of the AIDS crisis and the birth [...]

  • Michelle-Williams-Rupaul-Split

    Emmy Winners Urge Political Activism During Acceptance Speeches

    As the country inches closer to the 2020 election, Emmy winners on Sunday night used their time in the spotlight to advocate for political causes. Celebrities such as Patricia Arquette, Michelle Williams, and RuPaul Charles all urged activism from viewers while accepting their awards. While accepting her Emmy for her supporting role in Hulu’s “The [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content