Scifi.com Grabs Early Eyeballs for 'Dune'

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In just over a month, 275,000 people downloaded the trailer for the Sci-Fi Channel's mini-series "Frank Herbert's Dune."


The six-hour mini-series, not to be confused with the 1984 theatrical release, aired on the Sci-Fi Channel Dec. 3-5.


Scifi.com began teasing fans earlier this year to create a buzz for the series. It displayed the first images of the saga at www.scifi.com/dune, followed by weekly updates and eventually free downloads. A trailer also is available at www.apple.com/trailers, a large trailer site on the Internet.


"We haven't received any of those numbers yet, but, of course, we are hopeful that they are very large numbers," said Craig Engler, executive producer at Scifi.com, regarding downloads from Apple's site. The trailer for "Lord of the Rings" recently snagged more than 1 million downloads from the Apple site.


Three e-mail lists compiled from Scifi.com members were used to steer eyeballs to the site. The lists covered three areas: general Sci-Fi Channel news, the Sci-Fi Channel online store and Sci-Fi Weekly, which recaps the world of science fiction over the course of the past week. General Sci-Fi Channel news is mentioned in all e-mails, accompanied by updates to the "Dune" site.


"We knew going into this that there's a huge fan base for 'Dune' and a ton of those fans are online, so we knew we wanted to be online as soon as possible," Engler said. "It's basically met and exceeded our expectations in terms of people coming back and how many times the trailer was downloaded."


The Sci-Fi Channel and Scifi.com are separate companies with the channel handling marketing duties. The Sci-Fi Channel ran a commercial that promoted the "Dune" trailer, telling viewers it was available only at Scifi.com.


Scifi.com also leaked "Dune" secrets to other online sources. Aint-it-cool-news.com, Cinescape.com and Darkhorizons.com were fed photos and news before other science-fiction sites received them.


Scifi.com also bolstered its online coverage of "Dune" during the four weeks leading up to its television debut with streaming video interviews of cast members, set photos and online chats.


"In terms of being one of the channel areas of the site, it's definitely been in the top 10 since June when we kicked the site into high gear," he said.
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