USA Network, which has built a substantial social media following for its shows, is looking to expand its presence by integrating its Character Chatter platform with Facebook.
The top-rated cable channel will kick off its new Facebook connection with a live chat with star Callie Thorne during the season finale of Necessary Roughness Wednesday night.
"The integration with Facebook is going to be real important," said Jesse Redniss, VP of digital at USA. "It's a humongous social networking site and will bring viewers to where fans are already comfortable about sharing their interests."
Redniss says no money is changing hands between USA and Facebook to build this new platform. "Over the last few months, Facebook has been embracing the ‘TV with Friends' philosophy," he said. "They've been very encouraging with other content providers to build platforms like this on top of Facebook."
USA launched Character Chatter last year to aggregate the social media activity of its shows fans and talent, says Redniss, noting that actor Chris Gorham of USA's Covert Affairs has 50,000 Twitter followers and that USA's shows combined have about 15 million fans on Facebook. The first Character Chatter initiative, a chat with Bruce Campbell had 35,000 people logging in to chat and get their comments posted on the TV screen during the Burn Notice Return of Sam Axe movie.
Character Chatter fostered conversation and community. "It provides great access from fan to fan, as well as fan to talent and producer and writers," he says. "It takes us to the next level of watching a USA show."
USA will promote Wednesday's chat with Thorne on air with lower-third snipes during 30-second promos for the show. It will also let viewers know via messages on its current social media platforms including Facebook, which will let them know the chat is taking place and urge them to invite their friends to join in.
Redniss says the Facebook connection will be a big part of USA's fall launch of new episodes of the series Psych, Burn Notice and Covert Affairs in October and November.
Social media provide "a lot more one to one connection with our fan base," he says. As a result the network is moving more marketing dollars there "because it does provide us with a great user base and a great avenue to speak directly to our fans."
Viewers can participate in Facebook Character Chatter by "liking" the network or individual shows.
The new platform gives fans four different ways to interact with each other:
My Friends - Find out which friends like a particular show and chat directly with them, either during an episode or anticipating the next one. Additionally, fans can invite their friends to private chats and participate on the Character Chatter Platform directly on Facebook.
Chat with Fans - Join the larger audience of fans across the globe who are talking about their favorite moments, storylines or actors.
Curated Feed - Interact with stars and writers throughout the season. Following the individual chat and invite their friends to do the same.
All - Super fans can see all of the show comments 24/7. This section of the feed enables people to gauge what is trending and see what they are saying about the show while it is on-air.