10:00am PT by Kate Stanhope
USA Unveils Ambitious Digital Launch Plan for Hacker Drama 'Mr. Robot'
USA's new hacker drama Mr. Robot is getting a big prepremiere push online.
In a bid to get eyeballs on the network's forthcoming drama, the premiere will launch a month ahead of its June 24 broadcast bow on a wide array of platforms. On May 27, the pilot will debut on VOD, the USA Now app, Hulu, YouTube, iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, Vudu, Xbox Video, Playstation Video and M-Go. The first episode will also be available on nearly a dozen websites including USANetwork.com, THR.com, Twitch, IMDb, TheVerge.com and via the Crave Online network through June 5.
USA has used VOD to preview series premieres in the past, but Monday's announcement is one of the widest releases of its kind. “It is more important than ever to push boundaries in order to break through the clutter and reach new audiences," said USA president Chris McCumber. “Mr. Robot, which has already garnered awards before it has even aired, gives us a unique opportunity to make some noise and drive word of mouth through this innovative pre-linear strategy.”
In addition, the network hopes to appeal to a growing subset of Latin viewers by releasing the pilot early with Spanish language subtitles on VOD, YouTube and sites like Telemundo.com, Terra.com and Latina.com. The series premiere will be simulcast on NBC Universo with subtitles on June 24 at 10 p.m. and every subsequent episode of the drama will be made available with Spanish subtitles on VOD and NBCUniversal-owned and operated digital channels. (USA plans to closed-caption all original series and new theatricals in both English and Spanish beginning in June.)
“We are mirroring Mr. Robot's themes of anti-conformity and anti-establishment by breaking the rules for how to bring this award-winning series to market,” said USA executive vp marketing and digital Alexandra Shapiro. “Our goal is to get as many influential, diverse and passionate general market and Hispanic fan bases to watch the pilot well in advance of its linear premiere so they become evangelists for the series.”
From writer Sam Esmail (Comet), Mr. Robot centers on an antisocial young programmer named Elliot (Rami Malek) who can only connect to people by hacking them. He is recruited to join an underground hacker organization determined to bring down corporate America led by a mysterious anarchist named Mr. Robot (Christian Slater). Esmail will exec produce alongside Anonymous Content's Steve Golin (True Detective), Chad Hamilton (Breakup at a Wedding) and Niels Arden Oplev (Under the Dome).
The ambitious prelaunch push for Mr. Robot is just another way the new USA series will look to stand apart. After being fast-tracked through development, the project earned a series pickup in December and went on to win the Audience Award at the SXSW Film Festival. It recently screened at the Tribeca Film Festival and has already made a splash online thank to a bold ad campaign.
More broadly, it's reflective of a larger trend in which the network's top executives are embracing multiple platforms and distribution streams in an effort to get its programming recognized. USA has plans to release the third episode of its new medical drama Complications immediately after the two first episodes on June 18, for instance, and recently struck a deal to bring back comedy Playing House for a second season that included an early video-on-demand window for every new episode. Additionally, sister company NBC announced on Wednesday that it will release all 13 episodes of its new thriller Aquarius on demand and online the same night of the series premiere.
Mr. Robot premieres June 24 at 10 p.m. on USA.