The Mindy Project gets The New Girl treatment, but will it help the show achieve New Girl status?

by Colin McGuire. 0 Comments

“So my On Demand here has the pilot of the Mindy Project … and it isnt bad at all. It might be online, u should try to find it”

Such was a text message I received earlier today from a friend of mine, bad punctuation and all. This brought to mind two things: 1) Oh, so Fox is doing that whole, let’s release the show before the show is released thing with Mindy Kaling’s show … of course Fox is doing that whole, let’s release the show before the show is released thing with Mindy Kaling’s show. And 2) Based on the usage of “u” instead of “you,” I should immediately never talk to this person again.

The network moved forward with it Monday, and not only was Mindy Kaling’s show the grand prize winner of the same method of publicity that helped see “The New Girl” into its zeitgeist-dominating position at the beginning of last year’s fall television season, but “Ben and Kate,” a show that focuses on “the lives of a brother and sister who are exact opposite” (thanks, Wikipedia!) is also getting the free preemptive viewing treatment as well. From Andrew Wallenstein over at Variety …

“Now new half-hours ‘The Mindy Project’ and ‘Ben and Kate’ can be streamed on Yahoo, Fox.com, IMDB and Hulu.com, as well as the 70 other sites that host the Hulu player, including Facebook,” he wrote Monday. “The episodes will also be available on pay-TV VOD and can be downloaded for free on electronic-sell-through (EST) platforms including Amazon, XBox and Best Buy/CinemaNow. Fox’s continuing belief in what some industry-ites refer to as ‘pre-air’ distribution reflects new data Comcast is sharing with U.S. programmers that attempts to draw a causal link between early exposure for new shows in recent years across Xfinity On Demand, the cable operator’s cross-platform environment for on-demand content, and ratings increases those same shows register in their bows on linear channels.”

Thus the above text message, and thus the usage of the letter “u” instead of the word “you.”

In the spirit of full disclosure, I will now admit to the fact that I have yet to actually sit down with either show. Will I sit down with at least one of them (cough, Mindy, cough)? Of course I will. Though because I can’t speak to the actual content at hand here, I will direct you over to Mandi Bierly at Entertainment Weekly, who gives us five things we should like about Ms. Kaling’s foray into Fox programming. Among the things she notes, one involves Ed Helms (surprise!) and Bill Hader, while another uses the b-word, that I’m going to assume I’m not allowed to type on this newspaper’s website. Here’s a hint: the word rhymes with the word “howl.”

OK, no, it doesn’t.

Anyways, you can find those over-arching, profanity-laden Mindy Kaling-centric things here. As for the rest of this blog post …

… This tactic seems to work. No, really — it does. As mentioned above, the effect it had on “The New Girl” last year was tremendous. Though with that said (and as Wallenstein points out in his Variety piece) the trick didn’t quite work as well six years ago when CBS tried out “The Class” in a similar manner on something called Tivo (remember those?!). How do we know it didn’t quite work as well? The minute you read “The Class,” the thoughts in your head whispered, “Wait. What was ‘The Class?'” Fast-forward a couple years, when the same network tried the process again with something called “The Big Bang Theory,” and boom — everybody wins. How do we know everybody wins? The minute you read “The Big Bang Theory,” you thought, “Oh my God. I hope I still have some of last season’s episodes saved on my DVR!”

The only difference this time around? Fox is going to put an expiration date on when we can all view these shows before they premiere (which, in case you were wondering, will be Sept. 25). That expiration date? Two weeks. Yes. That sound I hear is the clicking of your mouses as you try and find these shows on your hip niece’s Facebook page before they go away for good.

The most interesting tidbit in all of this is that of all the platforms on which these shows will be available, iTunes is not one of them. Word has it, the Big White Apple wouldn’t comply with the “take it down after two weeks” bylaw that the suits at Fox demanded. Odd, considering how often the iTunes store tries to shove performances from “Glee” down our throats.

Either way, it’s clear this is becoming a trend, and it’s not just reserved for television shows, either. For instance, “Take This Waltz,” a movie starring Michelle Williams that I so dearly wanted to catch in theaters (though didn’t), was made available online the same week it went into the six theaters it went into. Sure, you still had to pay to watch it at home, but even so, the move allowed the release a tiny bit of buzz because of its unorthodox release method.

Thus, the disembodied voice asks the following: Will it work for these two shows? My guess is that it will. Though there is no evidence to prove this (kind of like how there is no evidence to prove this odd gigantic increase in readers for this blog in recent days, which continues to baffle me with every minute), I’d be willing to bet that such a tactic worked last year because of the star that “The New Girl” hired: Zooey Deschanel. She’s hip. She’s modern. She’s cute. She does neat Internet things. Why not use that reputation to try and promote a product by using a hip, modern, cute and neat Internet thing? My thoughts exactly. Serendipitously enough, this year’s hip, modern, cute person who likes to do neat Internet things happens to be Mindy Kaling. Now, go back and reread the previous three sentences. And … scene.

Premiering your shows for free on the Internet: The new full-page newspaper ad.

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