Sony Pictures made the news at this time last year by trying something that was only experimented with on occasion on cable television networks, sponsoring last year's network premiere of the FX show Nip/Tuck by only annoucning itself as the sponsor and showing a handful of upcoming film previews during the 1.5-hour season three debut.
The previews hyped films that were soon to debut, such as Memoirs of a Geisha and Fun with Dick and Jane, as well as the 2006 film All the King's Men, which will come out later this year, more than a year after this initial preview.
The idea must have been a success, as Sony Pictures once again signed on to be the sole sponsors of the season four season debut of Nip/Tuck, this time hyping films such as Running with Scissors, Stranger Than Fiction, The Holiday, Casino Royale, and The Pursuit of Happyness. The sponsored episode ran last Tuesday.
Last year I wrote that, considering my affinity for films, "I had almost as much interest watching the commercial breaks as I did watching the show. Also, with a show that has quite a bit of critical buzz and high production values, being supported by in-depth film trailers was not a bad move." Further, I said that "it was a great way in trying to market the advertising a little more directly so that fans who had the opportunity to fast forward through the commercials, as I did, chose not to and willingly watched them."
Considering how successful this type of sponsorship has been in the few isolated experiments, I'm surprised that this hasn't been attempted more often. Even if Nip/Tuck only attempts this once a year, I am assuming that both FX and Sony Pictures see this as a smart cross-marketing opportunity, especially by carefully crafting what upcoming films they preview during a show like Nip/Tuck.
I can envision other film comapnies signing on to sponsor shows targeted to their audience, whether it be Lions Gate sponsoring shows on the CW Network or documentary distributors sponsoring shows on A&E. But I think the repeat experiment between Sony Pictures and Nip/Tuck proves that there are continued opportunities for a sponsorship model of advertising that is agreeable to viewers, advertisers, and networks.