Hungry for another binge? Hannibal Lecter hopes you are.
The dark serial killer drama Hannibal, created by Bryan Fuller and based on characters created by Thomas Harris, didn’t excel in terms of ratings last year, but thanks to strong DVR numbers and critical acclaim will be returning to NBC (s CMCST) for a second season on Friday, Feb. 28th. As a prelude to that, however, the first season is now available exclusively on Amazon (s AMZN) Instant Video, and NBC wants you to watch it — all at once.
For NBC is currently getting ready for the #13HourDevour, a social media event meant to encourage new and old fans alike to binge view their way through the first season of Hannibal. Fans of the show — known as “Fannibals” — will be able to converge on Twitter and Tumblr (s YHOO) beginning at 12 PM EST on Sunday, Feb. 23rd to marathon the series.
Not only will fans watching be able to interact with Fuller, members of the show’s cast (including star Hugh Dancy, who will participate in a live Twitter Q&A under the hashtag #QforHugh) and potential “celebrity guests,” but there’s the promise of winning prizes and viewing exclusive content. (Plus, bathroom breaks are built into the schedule — each new episode will begin at the top of the hour, taking fans all the way to 1 AM EST.)
The strategy behind the 13 Hour Devour, NBCU president of digital media Rob Hayes said in a phone interview, was simple: “How can we not only do something for the existing fans, but get people who are friends of the existing fans, or fans of the zeitgeist, interested. Binging is a great way to get fans involved.”
When asked if he was worried that fans who got hooked after a commercial-free marathon would react negatively to having to watch Season 2 at a much slower pace, Hayes said he wasn’t. “I think people understand what this whole binging phenomenon is — and you’re paying for that privilege.”
Of course, a 13 hour marathon of Hannibal might have its side effects — when I mentioned it on Twitter, a friend of mine commented:
@lizlet You know I love that show, but I imagine marathoning it would leave me pretty depressed.
— Jeff Stone (@WheelbearGo) February 18, 2014
But Hayes looks to Hannibal, and its role within the world of the web, as just one sign of how social media has changed television, especially in regard to how the cast engages with it.
“The conversation about talent we had two years ago is so different from today,” he said. “[The cast] really saw the value of how fans were reacting — especially when [the show] went on hiatus and the fan engagement continued,” he said. “There’s real excitement from the cast about it.”
Tumblr, where the show has a huge fan base (it was fifth on Tumblr’s official list of most reblogged television shows), will be a key part of the 13 Hour Devour strategy — already, the official Hannibal account has begun promoting the lead-up with exclusive Season 2 trailers and fan art contests.
According to Hayes, celebrating the fan engagement is about more than keeping the Fannibals happy — the show’s creators enjoy it as well. “From what they tell us, they actively look at what’s been posted on these sites — specifically, on the art side,” he said. “I think they just love it. “