The U.S. television network USA had the mother of all surprises in stock for fans of its award-winning TV show Mr. Robot. Completely unannounced, the network released the first 40-odd minutes of the first episode of its second series on social media in the middle of a Facebook Q&A. The preview was released about an hour ago – a full three days before it was scheduled to air on television.
It would make sense, perhaps, that a TV show about a renegade computer hacker “leaks” onto the web as a teaser like this, even as a marketing stunt — about 25 minutes into a Q&A session on Facebook Live, the broadcast was interrupted with a message.
“Why waste more time on pointless speculation,” the masked figure on screen said, interrupting the Q&A session. “You deserve something new, something unexpected, something you’ve never seen before”, before rolling the first 40 minutes of the episode.
The TV network is sending its fans on a wild goose chase around the internet to keep watching the episode, deleting it off its various accounts as it ‘expires’. (The tweet that prompted this article, for example, is now gone. Awesome.)
It’s a complete PR stunt, for sure, but given how closely it ties in with the show’s core themes, I’m delighted to see an old-skool TV network like USA embrace social media in order to whip its fans into a frenzy. It’s fresh, fun and it seems genuine — and helps keep the networks relevant and on the pulse in a world where streaming services are breathing down their necks at every turn.