Glee first stepped on the musical theater television screen nearly one year ago (May 2009). As a television show, their marketing efforts were one of the first to push for a dominant online presence.  They recognized the shift from passive to interactive TV and were one of the first television shows to direct viewers online. This occured via blogs and social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, with fans taking up the charge on other social media sites like Tumblr.

CNN and the NYMag both wrote articles regarding Glee’s marketing campaign, the first framing it as ‘risky’ and the second as ‘unique’. Really, were teaser videos and online campaigns considered risky just last year?

“What Fox did last spring was something totally new that had never been done,” said Ed Martin, a television critic who writes for JackMyers.com. “Particularly for those networks that skew younger such as Fox, CW and ABC to an extent, they are going to have to really promote all of their shows all year long and find new ways to keep them in front of their viewers and remind them that they are there.”

Prime time TV is getting into interactive (or ‘social’) TV by maintaining social media sites meant to heighten the viewers experience with the story and the characters they’ve created…. and prime time TV  isn’t the only one. By leveraging the social web, Gleeks (Glee + geeks = uber-fans) have more media to digest and more fun to be had than ever before. However, social networks aren’t the only places viewers can satiate their thirst, many social applications are finding their way to the market, such as our video conversation application Vidrollr designed to facilitate online conversations about anything from episode reviews to question & answer sessions with characters from the actual show.

The CW Network offers another great example, claiming their programs are TV to Talk About. Their site is a place where viewers can discuss their favourite parts of an episode online and interact with video extras, behind the scenes clips, photos, forums, music and more.

Glee’s marketing efforts seem to be paying off – the muscial theatre show has been a huge hit. According to Zap2it, last Tuesday the FOX series scored the biggest audience in its short history, going from cult favorite to a top-20 show in the span of one hour. The headline numbers are 13.66 million viewers — more than 5 million above its season average of 7.95 million — and a 5.6 rating in the adults 18-49 demographic, a bump of two full points over its fall run.

Be sure to follow in all the Glee action.

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