Comic-Con: The New NATPE? (updated)

Remember when the major studios (especially in the 1980’s and 1990’s) had big booths at the NATPE convention to entice station buyers with costumed characters, major stars, and even wrestling matches? Well, those days are over as escalating costs have driven them off the convention floor and into hotel suites and the carnival sideshows have been cut.

But it seems the costumes and the carnival atmosphere (and the money) is being re-directed – to a convention in San Diego and instead of buyers – it’s geeks (like me) that are being targeted.

Television studios are bringing out the heavy artillery to Comic-Con to promote their shows – and this year, they are taking center stage, creating an atmosphere which was prevalent at the NATPE conventions back in the day.

And why not? These die-hard fanatics of everything geek – from TV shows to comic books to computers – are quite loyal consumers. And marketers know that very well. And that loyalty transfers to ratings points and dollar signs.

For example, Twentieth Television is sending its stars and its shows to Comic-Con – the comic book and sci-fi convention which takes place in San Diego every year. Twentieth is even putting a booth on the floor of the San Diego Convention Center, joining Warner Bros., which has seven shows represented. NBC Universal is also expected to be represented by a few shows, including Heroes.

Twentieth will be sending its two new shows – Dollhouse and Life on Mars, as well as existing shows 24, Prison Break, and Bones, as well as every one of its animated prime-time properties (except for King of the Hill.)

Comic-Con, which takes place between July 24 and July 27, is being covered extensively by cable networks SciFi and G4, and on the web by sites such as Toon Zone.

Updated 2008-06-30 at 2:27 p.m. (slightly altered post to add another TV Week link to the story)