When the fourth season of USA Network’s hit show Covert Affairs premieres Tuesday night, fans will get to enjoy a prequel storyline — thanks to the second screen.
The series, dubbed Sights Unseen: Auggie Undercover, will run for six weeks and introduce viewers to a part of character Auggie Andersen’s life before he lost his sight. Created in conjunction with Jaguar, the webisodes will focus on Auggie’s relationship with Russian-hacker Natasha — a character fans may remember from season 1 of the show.
For Christopher Gorham, the actor who plays Auggie, the second screen and social TV are an increasingly important part of business. Gorham, who has an active presence on Twitter (he’s @ChrisGorham), stopped by Mashable HQ to talk about the new web series, the future of the second screen and social media’s growing importance to television.
We even got Gorham to join Vine!
Why Gorham Uses Social Media
Gorham was always fascinated by movies and TV as a child, but he didn’t live in Hollywood — and his parents weren’t in the industry.
“As a kid, I always loved the behind-the-scenes stuff that showd how stuff were done,” he said. “I loved peeling back the layers to see how stuff comes together.”
So, as an actor, Gorham always “got” social media. “Twitter is a way I can share with that process with fans and show off what it is that we do,” he said.
In recent years, social media has also changed the way the actor communicates with fans. “Social media has made the way we interact with viewers so much more personal, individual and democratic than it used to be,” Gorham said, speaking of his previous work in television, including Popular and Jake 2.0.
“There was no way for me as a character or cast member to say what I thought about the show or life or politics or whatever. Social media has given me that platform.”
Of course, that platform can also be what Gorham calls a “double-edged sword.”
“It can cut the other way if you aren’t careful or you don’t have a thick skin,” he added. “My philosophy is if you can’t take the heat, stay out of the way.”
When asked if social media could have made an impact on building or galvanizing an audience around Jake 2.0 — a sci-fi show with a brief life on UPN in 2003 — Gorham remains unsure.
“The audience was so small,” he said. The show also faced stiff time-slot competition, namely from The O.C., featuring his Covert Affairs co-star Peter Gallagher. Still, he admits that he felt like everyone who watched Jake 2.0 is now on Twitter.
Covert Affairs and the Second Screen
Sights Unseen: Auggie Undercover isn’t the first second screen play for Covet Affairs. Last year, USA produced the first Sights Unseen web series, which chronicled a time right after Auggie was blinded in Iraq. During the show’s second season in 2011, fans helped Auggie complete a mission over Twitter.
Gorham directed the 2012 web series and served as the producer of Auggie Undercover. Gorham credits USA for its forward-thinking attitude regarding the second screen and social TV in general.
Although social and digital media weren’t discussed with Gorham during his original audition, once the network and showrunners saw his natural tendencies toward engagement, he was able to push them to embrace the trend even further.
Gorham believes that second screen helps expand and enhance the audience experience of Auggie Undercover.
We asked Gorham about the likelihood of a show that incorporates second screen storylines into the main narrative of a show — rather than as separate tracks as most shows implement today — and he cited monetization. “Someone will do it and it will be part of the show from its inception,” he said. Still, the economic realities of monetizing and paying for the production of that kind of content are still in the works.
Gorham does wish that the social strategy behind Covert Affairs could bring in new viewers. “The stuff we do is great for the audience already watching the show. They love it,” he said. “I would love to figure out a way to bring in new viewers using the second screen.”
The fourth season premiere of Covert Affairs premieres on Tuesday, July 16 at 9:00 p.m. EDT. The first webisode for Sights Unseen: Auggie Undercover will be online and available via USA Sync immediately after.
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