NBC Universal’s Sci Fi Channel will join with Richard Branson’s Virgin Comics on a co-branded venture that could lead to a new TV series based on newly developed characters and titles. The agreement calls for five initial Sci Fi/Virgin Comics-branded comic books later this year that could lead to content for TV, along with film, gaming and digital platforms, the companies said.
“Sci Fi/Virgin Comics marks an important step in our strategy to extend the Sci Fi brand into new cross-media platforms,” said Dave Howe, Sci Fi executive vice president/general manager. “…Virgin is the perfect brand to help us connect with the youth audience around the world.”
Separately, NBCU said its new horror-themed cable network Chiller will launch March 1 on DirecTV, along with companion site chillertv.com. Studio Lionsgate will be a charter sponsor online, via a co-branded effort that lets viewers sample exclusive clips from seven upcoming DVDs in the genre. The initiative will be promoted on the network, with other support on-air at Sci Fi and sister NBCU network USA.
Also, NBCU’s flagship NBC network will debut a new improv comedy challenge show “Thank God You’re Here” on April 9 and 16, with “Deal or No Deal” as a lead-in. The show, which features known actors trying their hand at script-less comedy, is replacing big-time hit “Heroes” in the Monday at 9 p.m. slot for those two weeks, before moving to Wednesdays at 8.
The series is from “American Idol”-producer FremantleMedia and has roots in Australia. Celebrities slated to participate include Wayne Knight (“Seinfeld”), Fred Willard, Tom Arnold and Fran Drescher.