Droughtlander for 6+ More Months!? Starz, It's Time to Show More Love to Outlander Fans

Written by: Ashley Crawley


I’m not one for math, but here’s a biting number for you — 419. As in, the total number of days — at a minimum!!!Outlander fans will have trudged through #Droughtlander before finally seeing a new episode of our favorite show. This week, Starz confirmed via EW pal Lynette Rice that season 3 will not premiere until sometime in September, thus setting into motion a collective “That’s too long! OH MY GOD WHYYYY” reaction across the Outlander-obsessed interwebs.  

Starz, seemingly, has some logical reasons for the 14-month airtime hiatus. The channel needs to space out fresh programming (Black Sails, The Missing, The White Princess) in a manner that sustains it through 2017. It’s also moving Outlander to Sunday nights, prime competition time on TV that has long been dominated by HBO, so the channel needs to do it right. In addition, Voyager’s high production value boasts lengthy shoot times that must be factored in, although our OCB resident expert and screenwriter, Holly, offered a compelling argument for how they might accommodate for that by splitting the season into two, ala season 1.

Intellectually, we get it… sort of. But emotionally? Not so much. With nearly seven more months (*gasp*) of Droughtlander still ahead of us, one major question (beyond the obvious HOW WILL WE SURVIVE?) keeps rattling through my brain. What is Starz going to do to help already fatigued fans through this dismal time? If they’re listening (and I hope they are), I’ve got some thoughts.

To date, Starz has offered little-to-no satiation in the way of, well, anything. Virtually no season 3 trailers, teasers, production vignettes, official production stills, you name it. Instead, we’ve resorted to lapping up every casting update or production nugget (goat food, as fellow writer and pal Anne Gavin put it) tossed our way in a fashion somewhat akin to an excitable farm animal at morning feedtime. It ain’t pretty, but can you blame us? Right now, Starz is making us feel like one of the lovestruck gals in He's Just Not That Into You.

For a show that’s reliant on an intensely passionate and loyal fandom — both online and off — and a network that launched an entire marketing campaign (remember #Obsessable?) paying homage to our lovably crazy behavior, you’d think they could throw us a bone. Sure, every now and again we get Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe’s playful banter via live social media chats and canned videos (like this most recent one), but they’re more like a mirage amidst the unending desert.





In contrast, when we’re in season, each week we’re encouraged to stick around once the episode ends so we can go into “the World of Outlander.” Ron D. Moore narrates us through the production magic that went into key moments we’ve just seen and makes us feel, well, special. But why are those moments reserved just for episodic vignettes?

Let’s just assume for a second that we’ll get a season 3 trailer sometime in this lifetime the near future. Even so, that doesn’t have to be our ONLY source of behind the scenes satiation. Trailers aside, Starz could — and should — run a well-integrated “World of Outlander” campaign in and out of season, creating original content leveraged in a multi-faceted approach that reaches thousands — if not, millions — of fans. And unlike what your conservative mama may have preached to you about sex, people WILL still buy the ice cream truck if you give away the treats for free.



Starz refusing to release anything while in production is especially annoying since it already did this before, way back in season 1 before it realized what a world-wide phenomenon the show would be. For example, remember when it offered us that adorable video of Annette Badland describing what it took to create Mrs. Fitz’s kitchen in Castle Leoch? It dropped on Outlander social channels during the mid-season break of season 1, generating smiles across the fandom during our first #Droughtlander. The video was short, simple, delicious and, most importantly, effective.

The BBC does it right. BBC’s Poldarkthat show that fills our Outlander-devoid time — treats its devoted fandom to sneak peeks into the production process, regardless of whether they’re in or out of season. I am well aware that plenty of cult fandom shows (The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones come to mind) leave fans in the dark for months, but Outlander doesn’t have to follow this lead. Be better than those shows. #BeLikePoldark


In the PR world (where I spend most of my waking hours), campaigns are planned using the PESO (paid, earned, shared, owned) model approach to channel engagement. In the case of Outlander, I’ll break down some examples: paid (advertising via billboards, digital, TV), earned (publicity using cast and crew), shared (content pushed through social using dedicated hashtags), owned (packaged videos and photos). Campaigns should utilize a combination of any of the four to be highly effective and measurable. Looking at those collectively makes you realize just how lax Starz has become in delivering credible and noticeable marketing and PR efforts these days.

We live in a highly digital, instant gratification-driven world where information is shared at lightning speed. On average, 6,000 tweets are sent EVERY SECOND. It’s no wonder that digital will finally overtake TV in ad spending this year. But when it comes to highly shareable content that can meaningfully influence behavior, as it turns out, sometimes the best things in life are free. To put it bluntly, we are a cheap date FREE PR. 

Outlander fans across the globe band together EVERY SINGLE DAY to gab about Outlander through hundreds of online networks (like our Outlander Cast Clan Gathering). We hungrily eat up anything offered on dedicated blogs (like ours, that humbly boasts 2.2 MILLION readers), fan websites and social channels before — and pay attention, because this is the important part — WE WILLINGLY SHARE IT via our own networks and social channels because we love the show so damn much. 

So yes, we are a demanding bunch… but what a problem to have! We are the best unpaid channel Starz could ever hope for when it comes to sustaining existing fans and creating new ones and, quite frankly, we’ve proven this through word of mouth and our immense engagement on social channels. 

In short, we ARE the Outlander influencers, so I encourage Starz to harness it responsibly and respectfully. In the words of the beloved Mrs. Fitz, we need something that’s a bit… well, a bit more. Help us to help you, Starz.


Do you think that Starz could offer fans more during Droughtlander?
And, how do you plan to survive 6+ more months until the premiere?


25 comments

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love this! It's so on point. And splitting the season (maybe with a few months even between the two halves) would be a great alternative. I'm not so much upset about the September air date. Bumped, sure, but I get the production doesn't always go as planned, things happen, and so on. But even if they didn't want to split the season, their PR is terrible during Droughtlander. It shouldn't be up to Maryl, Matt, Sam, Cait, Terry, Diana to be doing the PR via tweets. That's ridiculous, I mean, we love it sure, but thats not official PR. We should be getting some goodies from the actual production. BTS pics of S3, small little interviews with the cast-and not just Sam and Cait. I love them to death, but even Richard, Sophie, Cesar, John, any cast member. It wont take much time or any money to have them to a 1 minute "hi fans, cant wait for you all to see what were working on" etc. A quick sneak peak scene that they've already filmed, Claire rocking Bree, something like that saying "you are so like him". They can even share things from S2 that they haven't shared yet. It's ridiculous that they aren't doing the simplest stuff to keep us engaged. They did this last Droughtlander then they threw so much at us in the last 2 months it was so hard for me to keep up. They need serious help in the PR department. SERIOUS help.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely agree with you! Matt Roberts should get double pay since he seems to also carry the load of promoting the show via photography. I hope they're giving him some kickback for that. The same goes for the others. Relying on your cast and crew to organically sustain the momentum just isn't a smart approach. Thank you for reading and commenting!

      Delete
  4. STARZ is going at this all wrong. Maybe Blake needs to do another open letter to them? I think they read the first one! Plus we fans need to tag STARZ in tweets asking for more to sustain us through Droughtlander or .:..Else??(can't threaten to boycott, love my OL too much for that.) Thank God spring and summer are coming. Hate to think of dark cold nights ahead with no new Jamie and Claire to watch or discuss fee ver' crying out loud!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hell hath no fury like a riled up Blake. I'll tell him you're asking for one! Thanks for reading the post and for your comments.

      Delete
  5. While I think the actors appreciate the fans (for the most part), but when it comes to Starz, I just roll my eyes at #bestfansever because they have shown minimal interest or intention in supporting this relationship that would be satisfying to both parties. They always strike me as being in "response mode" on social media instead of leading or innovative thinking about what could be a great source of PR for them. They should have known this September announcement would be disappointing to fans, but they offer nothing other than "it will be worth it." Do they have ANY idea how this comes across? That plus the "privileged bragging" (I read this on someone's post and it fits perfectly) of those who have seen bits and pieces and swear it's "worth the wait" (which I'm sure is true!) misses the point entirely, an opportunity to build good will, appreciation and excitement for the new season. SMH. And please, stop calling it Droughtlander. That was cute between the two halves of Season 1 when Starz was actively engaged in keeping us interested (the campaign they created during the month of December was terrific), now it's just a reminder of how little they've offered since then. I suspect, these next two seasons will be the final ones for this series, and they're already signed and sealed and partially delivered. Why bother to engage fans? The actors may still have a need for that (considering life beyond and outside of Outlander) but does the Starz?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, yes and more YES - to everything you've said here. #Darklander feels more on point right about now. In my very humble opinion, they should have dropped a S3 teaser of some sort yesterday as the official announcement tagged with "Coming September 2017". But they didn't. Lost opportunity.

      Delete
    2. Ha! "#Darklander" . . . brilliant.

      Delete
  6. How about fan conventions (note the plural!) and not just on the coasts of the US either! There are some of the best OL fans in-between and on many continents!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'll admin I don't have the foggiest notion of production scheduling or any such considerations employed by STARZ to come to this most unfortunate decision to delay the airing of Season-3. However, this isn't the first time I've wondered whether STARZ appropriately appreciates the Outlander series. It's probably a sound business decision on their part but that doesn't make it easier to accept for this passionate Outlander fan.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very well said, Glenn. The wait makes sense to me... it's the lack of any simple fan engagement tactics to keep all fans (not just us diehards) intrigued and on the hook for September.

      Delete
  8. Ashley so agree with your post,what is the matter with STARZ,they really don't know what a large fan base there is in OL, and at least do more show promoting just give us something,well no choice,I'LL wallow in the waiting period,but I'M as AHAH a sooooo sad!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I hope they are going to have more then 10 episodes then. I'm fast losing interest. Starz cost extra money and it needs to be worth it. Outlander is the only reason I have starz

    ReplyDelete
  10. I totally agree with you and hope that somehow this will be oted by STARZ PR. They need serious help!! Good on you for helping to show them the way. Hoping they take your excellent advice. Thank you so much!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I always write these things strongly but respectfully (and somewhat hesitantly)... because we know what it feels like to have someone suggest to you that you're not the best at your job. But it wouldn't take much to do more, simply to draw in fans. Thank you for reading!

      Delete
  11. From your blog to the STARZ marketing dept's ears! I hope they take your advice and give us fans some tidbits to power us through. BTW - I like #Droughtlander for the rhyme.

    As for what I'll be doing during the dark times, I'll be engaging with other fans on Facebook groups, rereading the series, and (warning...shameless plug ahead) drinking scotch and baking goodies and writing reviews about them on my blog, "Scotch & Scones" (www.scotchandsconesblog.wordpress.com). ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YUM! I'll definitely check out your blog. Adorable title! thanks for reading and commenting!

      Delete
  12. Very thoughtful article which represents the feelings of many Outlander fans. Yes, in our collective angst, we feel taken for granted ... even discounted. But, I have to trust STARZ knows what they are doing and that they have the show's best interest in mind. Like many viewers, I would not subscribe to STARZ if NOT for Outlander. I do not watch any of their shows or the various iterations of STARZ that run movies, old westerns etc. I think they know that they cannot survive as a business entity without garnering viewers who are not part of the Outlander fandom. They are taking a calculated risk that we fans will tolerate just about anything because our support for Outlander is inexorable and true! So, I will watch The Americans, Homeland and the myriad other shows on cable, amazon , Hulu etc. to allay my consternation until September. I hope Season 3 will be well worth the wait!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are so right. It's not the wait I care about, as I trust the production powers that be. It's the publicity powers that be that have my head spinning. But I know on the other side of this is a well-guarded amazing product we will be excited to see.

      Delete
  13. Do you think this has anything to do with Lionsgate's purchase of STARZ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have wondered that as well! Something's a tad off, whether it be transition woes or new management or general lack of continual integration on the marketing/PR/ad side. Thanks for reading!

      Delete
  14. Well, I plan to take advantage of this "emotional space" between myself and the Outlander world. As a 55 year old teacher I could not logically make sense of my obsession with Jamie Fraser and all of the cast including Scotland and the overall time period. I am allowing myself a break from the madness. I no longer have the Outlander collection of books on my coffee table for instant reference up to FC. I now have a bird in a nest as my iPhone wallpaper instead of Sam. I put away ,carefully ,my life size cardboard cutout of Jamie in his kilt. I also have a special drawer for the magnets, stickies, and pocket Jamie with all inside of it. I no longer look for tartan designed clothing accessories and dog wear on the internet. I now read other books about Highlander's. I don't go into Barnes and Noble looking for bobbin head Jamie. After watching 213 the emotional distance is needed. I do still fantasize about living in 18th century Scotland . I imagine myself as Claire walking into the printshop and then around Edinburgh. I watched The Wedding for the ???? time last night, but it's been a long time. I look for 18th century recipes. I still consider having Jamie Fraser's image printed on a body pillow. I still post pics to Pinterest daily. So, considering all of this and the fact that I was able to plan my vacation I think I will be ok. I'm not out completely but much better than before. Will I get sucked right back in once September comes? Of course. Probably once the trailer or other video comes out. And yes. I am very well aware of the insanity of it all.

    ReplyDelete

Back to Top