Outlander season 3: Reflecting on the premiere screening decision

premiere screeningWe’re a few days removed now from San Diego Comic-Con, and that offers more perspective on what was apparently viewed by some as a controversial decision: Screening the Outlander season 3 premiere early to the fans in attendance at the panel.

On our end, we’ve personally seen a wide range of reactions to the move. We’ve seen some, both in terms of attendees and also fans online who weren’t there, who loved the move — it was obviously a great gift to the people in Ballroom 20, but it brought the show far more publicity than a standard SDCC panel would. That’s always great when the goal is to expose the show to people who may not be in the typical fan following, which we think you should always want even if you have an established crowd.

Now that we’ve said that, it’s also clear that there are some divided reactions floating around, as well. For example, we’ve certainly heard from some that the move was unfair, and rewarded fans who were lucky enough to get rare Comic-Con badges over those who tried or simply couldn’t afford them. Entertainment Weekly also spoke to some marketing execs who had mixed reactions to the move, saying it builds great buzz but could alienate some fans. The publication notes that executive producer Ronald D. Moore loved the idea, and author Diana Gabaldon described what was a wonderful experience being in the room on Facebook, watching so many fans enjoy the episode at one time.

We suppose that for those involved in the show, this had to be amazing — you never get the opportunity to get so many people who all love your work in the same place at the same time. Even for the fans there, it’s a community experience that they will probably never forget.

Obviously, there is that flip side of this in people being left out and feeling bummed about it. You never want that, but we think there’s a simple solution that you could make everyone satisfied: Post the full first episode online, maybe a week or so before the September 10 premiere date. This is something that Showtime does often with some of their shows on YouTube, so why not try it over at Starz? It would build up more buzz and make every fan feel rewarded for their support during this super-long Droughtlander.

Beyond this solution, though, we do think that the premiere screening is a net positive; in the end, it brings more buzz to the show and in the long-term that is what matters most. The major thing that we’d be concerned for would be attendees running around and spoiling the episode for people who weren’t there — sure, there’s already source material that spoils almost everything, but fans deserve the experience of watching the episode fresh for the first time. That’s why it’s a good thing that Outlander fans are mature and respectful; we don’t see many of them being jerks about this.

Do you think that it was a net positive for Outlander to screen the season 3 premiere early? Sound off in the comments!

Another recent feature

Be sure to check out our piece regarding a potential season 5 renewal, and when Starz should consider having that happen. (Photo: Starz.)

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