With viewers increasingly inundated with new channels and methods of consuming television content, the major broadcast networks are being forced to go to even bigger extremes of promotion and advertising to try to get people to actually tune in to their new fall lineups.

In a roundup of the extreme tactics the Big Four have embraced this year to get noticed, the New York Times reported that hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent this year to capture eyeballs and ensure that people actually tune in for much-hyped launches like ABC‘s “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and “The Blacklist” on NBC.

So how extreme are we talking? To promote its new series “Sleepy Hollow,” Fox sent a character dressed as the headless horseman to major cities and state fairs—and even used green screen technology to have local affiliate weather reporters appear “headless” while giving the forecast. They also handed out doughnuts and coffee in the New York subway to promote cop comedy “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.”

All of these moves are designed to raise the public’s awareness of a show at a time when the broadcast networks are still attempting to promote an entire slate at once, while the cable networks have shifted to focusing on one or two new shows at a time.

And aside from live events and traditional TV marketing, the networks are really excited about using social media to generate buzz and drive viewership, the New York Times said. But no one has yet figured out how to recreate the success that ABC’s “Scandal” had last year when Twitter basically brought the show back from the brink.

Get the full story at The New York Times

Brief Take: Faced with stiffer competition from cable and a rapidly evolving technology landscape, the networks are willing to spend big bucks and move further outside the box to avoid ceding any more ground in the battle for eyeballs.

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