EXCLUSIVE: CBS is getting a head start on boosting the profile of its new Justin Hartley drama, now named Tracker.
Previously known as The Never Game, the series is scheduled to air during the 2023-24 broadcast season. But the network’s marketing department under President Mike Benson plans to kick off the drama’s promotional campaign this Thursday during March Madness. Watch a preview below.
“We’ve never had an opportunity like this where we picked up a show so soon so we can start promoting it this soon,” Benson tells Deadline about Tracker, which CBS first committed to piloting in September 2021. The network ordered it to series in December 2022. “There has never been more content, and we really want to make sure we are creating awareness and interest for it. When we have an opportunity to do that, like with March Madness that has an audience we think would be interested, we want to take advantage.”
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Tracker follows a lone-wolf survivalist named Colter Shaw (Hartley), who roams the country as a “reward seeker,” using his expert tracking skills to help private citizens and law enforcement solve all manner of mysteries while contending with his own fractured family. Robin Weigert, Abby McEnany, Eric Graise and Fiona Rene also star.
The series is based on the bestselling novel The Never Game by Jeffery Deaver.
Although production on Tracker has commenced and there is plenty in the can to draw from, Benson doesn’t want put it all out there for viewers to see.
“We are going to be strategic about this and build anticipation,” he said, adding that the spots will change as the year goes on. “We are creating what I think is more of a story-driven marketing campaign. In the spirit of the show, we leave a popcorn trail for the audience to follow.”
Benson’s team employed a similar strategy with its super early promo spots for Super Bowl LVIII. Right after Super Bowl LVII, CBS began running spots showing a bus heading to Las Vegas, where the next championship will be played February 11 in Allegiant Stadium.
“We really want our audience to know it’s a CBS event,” Benson explained. “Just like you might do with Olympics. We love our relationship with the NFL, and we are super excited for next year. We can’t wait for it. Why not lean into it for an entire year?”
Tracker is produced by 20th Television. In addition to Hartley, Ken Olin, Ben H. Winters and Hilary Weisman Graham are executive producing for 20th Television. Olin directed the pilot from a script written by Winters.
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