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With Klondike, Discovery makes its first foray into scripted TV

32292_DAY08_DSC2291.jpgKlondike, a scripted miniseries that follows two adventurers in Dawson City during the height of the Klondike Gold Rush, is set to debut tonight on Discovery. The show marks Discovery’s first foray into scripted television in its 27-year history and it is sure to attract Game of Thrones fans wanting to see more of Richard Madden (Robb Stark).

To generate buzz for the show, Discovery has created Social Saloon Live, a microsite that allows viewers to watch live cams set up in the real Dawson City and the Dawson City recreation that Discovery has installed in Times Square. The site also captures the social conversation surrounding the show and links to documents that provide historical context for the series.

Discovery has taken a different approach in promoting its first scripted series versus promoting Shark Week, MythBusters, or Deadliest Catch.  We spoke with Derek Dodge, Discovery’s Director of Social Media, about the social activations leading up to the show’s premiere, the reaction to the show thus far, and the idea behind posting social cliffhangers.


Lost Remote: How has your approach differed in promoting Klondike, your first scripted series, versus other Discovery programming?

Derek Dodge: Klondike has offered us many opportunities to engage with our audiences through social that aren’t usually possible with non-fiction programming. We had a wealth of great making-of and behind the scenes content with the cast and crew that we began sharing very early on with our social audience. We also capitalized on the rich history of the Klondike gold rush by providing viewers interesting facts and trivia from the time period, satisfying our viewers’ natural curiosity and desire to dig deeper. Discovery has a large reach on Facebook and Twitter with more than 50M combined Likes and followers across all our properties. We reached out to these audiences to build early excitement for Klondike starting in the fall of 2013, but we were careful to stay focused on sharing compelling content only. Our audience always comes first on our social channels. We know what content our fans like and thankfully Klondike plays right into the same themes as some of our most popular shows.

LR: What has the social reaction been like so far?

Dodge: The social reaction to Klondike has been overwhelmingly positive. Viewers are extremely excited to see Richard Madden returning to TV after Game of Thrones. Many people also are really excited to see this piece of American history come alive through a stellar cast – Abbie Cornish, Sam Shepard, Tim Roth, Johnny Simmons – and the amazing production quality that Discovery is known for.

Additionally, critics who have seen the show are giving it rave reviews and that buzz is gaining momentum on social media. Social media really has become the dominant way people are hearing about what’s worth watching and what’s not. The early buzz for Klondike on social is that it’s an epic, visually-stunning thriller, so we take every opportunity we can to amplify those positive sentiments.

LR: In addition to Facebook and Twitter, what other social vehicles will you utilize to promote the show?

Dodge: Facebook and Twitter are the cornerstones of our social strategy for Klondike, but we’re taking advantage of audiences on other social platforms as well. For example, we’re utilizing the newly-launched Discovery Instagram account to post real-time pictures of the Klondike cast at the NYC premiere party using Facebook’s InstaStop booth. We’ve also been working with the team at Learnist, who have been curating great content related to the history of the gold rush and the making of Klondike.

LR: What prompted the idea to post pictures of the screenplay leading up to the premiere?

Dodge: The story of Klondike has a lot of cliffhanger moments that will leave the viewers wondering what will happen next. We wanted to feed excitement about the Klondike story in advance of the three-night event, but avoid giving away any spoilers. We also know that viewers love to peel back the layers of production and see how things are made, so we thought releasing pages from some of the script’s most exciting moments would help build anticipation for the premiere while also giving viewers a glimpse into the world of production.

LR: Anything else?

Dodge: We’re also really proud of our Social Saloon Live, on the Klondike fansite. It’s a social media-fueled experience inspired by an 1897 saloon that was designed and built in partnership with Mass Relevance. Users can watch live cams from the real Dawson City in the Yukon, while following Tweets and Facebook posts from Klondike cast and crew, as well as other fellow fans. Additionally, we’ll be featuring photos from visitors to the Dawson City exhibit at Discovery Times Square in New York City. Finally, on premiere nights, this is where viewers will be able to watch the Klondike Aftershow, hosted by Chris Jacobs.


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