First on WebNewser: In a significant expansion of its original digital offerings, Syfy has picked up a new, 10-part science fiction web series, “The Mercury Men.”
“It is a modern web series that hearkens back to ‘Flash Gordon’ and ‘Buck Rogers,’” Craig Engler, senior VP of Syfy Digital tells WebNewser. “It is black and white, there is a ray-gun, there is a brain in a jar, you don’t see brains in jars anymore!”
The web series does not have a premiere date yet, as the network is currently looking at which of its television properties it wants to launch it with. By tying the launch of a web series to a TV event like a season premiere or finale, Syfy can market the program to millions of already-engaged viewers.
Syfy just successfully launched a new series, “Being Human,” to 3.8 million viewers on its premiere night, so the season finale of that show could be a possibility. The network also has the season premieres of “Warehouse 13″ and Eureka” on tap for later this year.
“The obvious pairing for it would probably ‘Eureka,’” Engler says. “It has a very big retro feel to it. It has a lot of retro-futurism, which is what ‘Mercury Men’ is really about.”
Why not just use viral media, like Facebook and twitter, to spread the word about the launch of “Mercury Men”? Syfy almost certainly will use those platforms, but they cannot be considered reliable marketing tools, because what goes viral and what doesn’t is unpredictable. Engler compares it to winning the lottery.
“Half the battle is getting people to be aware of them,” he says. “It is great to have an awesome web series, but it does you no good unless you have a way to get the word out.”
The series order for “Mercury Men” comes as Syfy’s last original web show, “Riese: Kingdom Falling,” surpassed 1.3 million views since it launched at the end of October.
“The first thing we learned from “Riese” is that this online stuff works,” Engler says. “[Web series] are getting much better. The production quality is fantastic. If you look at “Riese,” it is amazing, if you look at “Mercury Men” it is amazing in an entirely different way.”
“The Mercury Men” is from creator Christopher Preksta, who also created the Streamy-winning web series “Captain Blasto”. Each episode will run around seven minutes. The trailer is below.