SXSW Solidifies TV Boom On Festival Circuit

March 22, 2017

This year’s SXSW festival, which wrapped up this past weekend in Austin, served as a launching pad for a number of high-profile TV series, including Showtime’s “I’m Dying Up Here,” AMC’s “The Son,” Starz’s “American Gods,” Netflix’s “Dear White People,” and Stage 13’s “I Love Bekka & Lucy”.

The annual Texas fest—which is largely known for specializing in music and tech—marks the latest major festival to see an increase in television programming.

“It’s a very, very buzzy place and there’s a reason we keep going back,” says Don Buckley, Showtime’s EVP of program marketing and digital services. Buckley says that launching a show at SXSW gives new series a leg-up over the competition.

Over the past few years, as film festivals like SXSW, Sundance and Tribeca have been including more and more TV programming, the events have become tougher for networks to enter, especially in the era of Peak TV. “It feels like it’s gotten more competitive,” Buckley notes, recalling a few years ago when Showtime first brought “Penny Dreadful” to Austin. “I’ve seen the list of other shows present, and it seems like a greater number than in the past.” Being included can set a show apart, he says. “That was validation for us,” he says of “I’m Dying Up Here.” “Not everybody can just show up.”

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