I Think I Just Watched A Spinoff: Trickery or Simply Smart Promotion?

Emiah Gardner | Jan 21, 2013

The spinoff is one of the oldest tricks in a producer’s book. It makes sense, after all; there’s already a fan following, built-in storylines, and cheaper budgets. But getting audiences to love a spinoff is another story – they’re rarely as successful as their parent shows. But Bravo recently tackled the issue of the spinoff transition by “tricking” viewers into watching a portion of their new spinoff while catching up on their favorite Housewives. Check out how you might be duped into watching a spinoff without even realizing it.

The Vanderpump Switch

Scheana Vanderpump Rules

In the blink of an eye, viewers were tuned in to the premiere of Vanderpump Rules

Even if you weren’t planning on watching Lisa Vanderpump’s new spinoff, Vanderpump Rules, you might have inadvertently gotten caught up in the drama while watching The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (RHOBH). To help drum up interest in the new show, Bravo integrated the Venderpump drama into an episode of RHOBH. In the last few minutes of the episode, the show switched from being yet another episode of RHOBH and became the first few minutes of the Vanderpump Rules pilot episode. The switch between shows was so much like Bravo’s usual scene transition that you might not have even noticed that you weren’t watching your beloved Housewives anymore – sneaky!

Jersday Reigns Supreme

When Jersey Shore was starting to wind down, producers were scrambling to make the most of the surprisingly popular empire. Instead of calling it quits, they came up with a new spinoff show – Snooki and JWoww. The two shows overlapped over one season, but Snookie and Jwoww took over Jersey Shore‘s prime Thursday spot. Viewers tuning in the week after the Jersey Shore season finale were treated to much of the same antics and cast members, just with a different show title. Hey, Jersday is Jersday, right?

Vamps go Primetime

The Vampire Diaries KlausDon’t think reality TV is the only genre to pull the old switcheroo on its viewers. Scripted television has done the same and will keep it up in years to come. This year, it’s The Vampire Diaries that will get the spinoff treatment as part of the storyline. The CW plans to produce a spinoff called The Originals, focusing on everyone’s favorite bad boy, Klaus, and his followers. The new show will first be integrated into The Vampire Diaries storyline before going solo, hopefully tricking viewers into sticking around to see what happens even after the episode is over. It’s worked before, but there’s no way of telling if The Originals will be a hit, even if they do trick viewers into tuning in.

Spinoff Fails

While integrating a spinoff into the parent shows definitely helps introduce the show and its characters, it’s not always successful. A few seasons back, Lifetime tried to base a show on the models behind Project Runway. After all, they compete for prizes as along with the designers. Without any commercial break, Project Runway would end and Models of the Runway would begin, hoping to trap viewers into getting even more involved in the design competition. Unfortunately, the spinoff completely flopped and the model-based reality show was scrapped. While we don’t know why, a lack of originality might have been an issue – don’t we already have a show about new models?

Producers need to be creative about introducing spinoffs to viewers, which is why they try to hook you via integrated drama. While it’s not always a sure thing, sometimes it’s too tempting not to follow characters over to their new shows. Hey, curiosity might have killed the cat, but it didn’t hurt the avid TV watcher, right?

How do you feel about these seamless spinoff transitions?

Follow Emiah @EmiahGardner


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