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To Get Viewers For ‘Satisfaction,’ USA Tries Turning Show’s Themes Into Hot Topic

The storyline of USA’s new drama “Satisfaction” sounds compelling: Upon discovering his wife is seeing a male escort, her husband tests the occupation as well. But the NBCUniversal-owned network will rely on much more than the program’s premise to garner viewer attention.

USA hopes to create, in a sense, a series of “trending topics” around the show, and will partner will unconventional media outlets like Vice and the HowAboutWe dating site to stir up chatter and debate around some of the issues that stand at the center of the new series.

“We have to be smarter about how we create intrigue and the desire to sample,”said Alexandra Shapiro, USA’s executive vice president of marketing and digital.

USA has commissioned a three-part docu-series with Vice, the rebellious journalism outfit that is not shy about putting its video to work for sponsors. In the series, real people will talk about how technology has changed the pursuit of romance and how the definition of commitment is changing. The series will premiere on Vice’s web site as well as on USA’s, with a new webisode set to launch with each of the first three weeks of the series. “Satisfaction” debuts Thursday, July 17 at 10 p.m. eastern on USA.

USA will in the same time span roll out a series of advertorials on dating site HowAboutWe that will tackle topics around the idea of modern love. USA will set up screening premieres with the site in Chicago, San Francisco and New York, each featuring a panel opining on the subject of modern relationships.

In addition, the network has placed billboards and ad signs in certain cities that aim to stir conversation around taboo subjects such as “Is Monogamy Realistic?”and “Is There Such A Thing As Happily Ever After?”

While USA will still run traditional promos for the new series, Shapiro cautioned that relying solely on old-school methods to try to get millions of potential viewers to tune in would be foolish.

“You want to be able to give as many people as many entry points into your franchise as possible and that’s what we are trying to do,” she said. “People are consuming media on so many platforms that if you just rely on traditional media, you are missing out on a huge population that does not consumer content in that way anymore.”

“Satisfaction” itself represents something of a break with tradition at USA. It is not a procedural drama along the lines of such popular USA fare as “Covert Affairs,” “Burn Notice” or “In Plain Sight.” And its themes are decidedly edgier and darker than previous series that embodied a sort of “blue sky” sensibility and embraced optimism and humor.

According to Shairio, getting potential viewers interested in seeking out more of the cultural conversation that could erupt around a show is a new tactic TV networks ought to investigate. “How do you attract ‘heatseekers,” the people who lean into the more provocative, cutting edge shows?” she asked. “ We’ve got to try these non-traditional marketing tactics to generate interest and initiate awareness.”

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