It's a tricky strategy SyFy is doing. Some two months before Caprica kicks off on TV, the network has made its pilot available for public viewing on its website. And that's not all. It has also released it via DVD in March. When it finally debuts this Friday, then, it's safe to say that a lot of people, especially those who are really determined to see it, would've have done so.
In fact, SyFy reveals that 1.5 million has sampled the Caprica pilot even before it hits television screens. Aside from the network's website, the Battlestar Galactica prequel was made available on Hulu, free on demand, Apple, Amazon, and even film festival screenings.
Just for a little perspective, Battlestar's pilot in 2004 was seen by 3.1 million viewers, one of its highest-rated programs to date then. Its first episode was also made available for viewing in its entirety from the website, but after it airs on TV.
Says SyFy bigwig Blake Callaway, the network decided to use the pilot at the core of marketing the entire 18-episode series, precisely why they didn't try to keep the two-hour opener under wraps.
"Traditionally, the approach was spend a lot of money to get viewers to watch episode 1," he said. "We're just as heavily promoting week 2 as well."
The aired pilot episode features establishing shots of the planet Caprica, plus a "supertease" that foreshadows the rest of the season. According to Callaway, Syfy doesn't really know how many people have watched the entire episode and how many just watched portions and will tune in to see the whole thing on Jan. 22.
And SyFy is serious. Its strategies include Spanish-language advertising on Telemundo to target the Hispanic market, a Caprica Open Mic application on Facebook, and the usual print ad campaigns and film festival screenings.
True enough, Callaway called Caprica the network's "biggest priority for the year."