FX was in a unique position. The first season of zombie drama The Walking Dead was a huge hit and Season Two was gearing up to be even bigger, with lots of established and active fans online. The challenge? US drama release patterns mean large breaks in a season’s episodes (in this case, a two month break). FX needed to ensure their marketing not only created a big fanfare but also ensure a sustained level of interest in the show, to reignite excitement for its return on screen. Our brief: give something back to the existing fans, and entice new viewers by giving them a reason to share their love of The Walking Dead.
With more than three-quarters of UK viewers now using other media while watching TV, it was clear that ‘dual screening’, rather than being seen as a threat (a competing force for attention), could be a strong tool in a TV channel’s weaponry. Making it work for a high-attention, narrative driven, immersive drama was the key to the conundrum: audiences are using other devices, but the main screen experience is what makes the genre so successful. So we created a ‘companion app’: an application that runs alongside the show to deepen engagement and to field all of the online conversations in one place; a place full of everything any zombie lover could ever want. We created a UK first by using audio watermarking in the app: technology that meant zombie kills could be tracked to the second with the main screen experience.
The app was released on iTunes in early February and the initial online buzz was overwhelming – from Facebook, to Twitter, to app review sites, to online zombie zones. We made the Top 10 list in the iTunes App Store in the first week and the app reached 300,000 gameplays in its first 60 days.
The second season of The Walking Dead delivered an increase in audience share of over 60%. The app was awarded a coveted Bronze Lion against tough global competition in the Mobile category at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.
“Red Bee Media were the ideal partners, given their wealth of experience in second screen activity. We are incredibly excited to launch the channel’s first ever IOS app, just in time for the airing of the second part of season 2” (Cecilia Parker, General Manager, FX UK)