USA Characters Star in Web Push

Jan 23, 2006  •  Post A Comment

USA is looking to the Internet to push the characters in its shows and perhaps to find new ones created by its viewers.

Last week the “Characters Welcome” network launched an online game for its show “Monk.” Users get to do the kinds of things fussy detective Adrian Monk is known for, such as straightening silverware and wiping lipstick from drinking glasses. An online store selling “Monk” merchandise, including the new “Monk” book, opens today.

The Web-based items are part of the network’s “Are You Monkish?” campaign to promote the show. Already online are original webisodes of “Monk,” character blogs and quizzes.

Those entertaining features have driven a 900 percent increase in page views on usanetwork.com compared with last January, said Chris McCumber, senior VP of marketing and brand strategy for the network.

“We consider our audience to be characters themselves, and we want the two of them [viewers and Adrian Monk] to interact and be together,” Mr. McCumber said.

The interaction kicks into a higher gear as USA invites viewers to “Show Us Your Character” by uploading pictures and videos of themselves. The site already features dozens of pictures from viewers, but soon a search for “America’s Greatest Character” will be launched, he said. Finalists likely will be featured in spots on the channel, and the winner could be featured in a series on usanetwork.com.

The “Show Us Your Character” feature is the next phase of the network’s “Characters Welcome” campaign, which was launched last year, Mr. McCumber said.

The “Monk” Web site will serve as the template for promoting other USA shows.

On the “Nashville Star” Web site, for example, viewers will be able to follow the contestants via webcams in the house where the contestants stay. There will also be video blogs from hosts Wynona Judd and Cowboy Troy and plenty more behind-the-scenes materials, Mr. McCumber said. Similar sites are being planned for “The 4400,” “The Dead Zone” and the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

With the “Monk” site on usanetwork.com generating upward of 8 million page views already this month, it is soon likely to feature advertising.

“The overall NBC digital strategy is to monetize these sites as much as possible,” Mr. McCumber said. He said the site was redesigned to be very clean and user-friendly, but places for banners and other types of ads were built into the plan.