Heroes Gets Big Assist From Web

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NBC’s Heroes came out of nowhere to become the biggest serialized hit of the fall—or did it?

CAA agent Peter Micelli, appearing on a panel Saturday at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ Next TV summit in North Hollywood, Calif., credits online promotion with generating excitement among the Heroes faithful long before it ever got on the air.

This past July, during San Diego’s annual Comic-Con International convention, devotees of the comic book world packed a 5,000-seat theater for a pilot screening of Heroes less than two months after NBC ordered it and long before conventional network promotion  began.

Another 5,000 had to be turned away at the door, according to Micelli, who regularly attends the conventions.

The only word that the series was on the way had come online, which generated long lines among a likely fan base and lots of Web buzz leading up to the premiere.

“You just wonder,” Micelli says, “in a world where we struggle so much to create awareness of a show that actually exists, how is it possible that 10,000 people at this convention are coming to see Heroes? You find these ideas, these simple concepts that resonate, and people find interest in them. Online there is a huge wave to create awareness that the show exists, where it’s going to be, and that’s huge … because the networks don’t stick with shows very long anymore.”

Micelli predicts that online promotion, which has been dependent mostly on avid fans until now, will become a “huge” TV industry practice in the future.

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